When the Nguyen brothers opted to become Science Leadership Scholars (SLS) at Texas A&M University, they simultaneously laid claim to a unique distinction: the first-ever sibling pair in the program’s history.
Kyle Nguyen ‘24 and his younger brother Henry Nguyen ’25, who describes himself in his SLS biography as “the little brother of the guy on my right,” grew up together in Sugar Land, Texas. Nowadays, they share their Aggie status, the Texas A&M campus, a biology major, a passion for medicine and an exclusive array of opportunities afforded to them though the SLS Program.
Impact Of Former Students
SLS was launched in 2016 with generous underwriting from dozens of Texas A&M former students, donors, and faculty to provide support to first-generation, high-performing students from low-income households who are majoring in science-related disciplines. For Kyle and Henry, the opportunity to be SLS Scholars was one of their deciding factors in attending Texas A&M.
“I owe a lot of my decision to be an Aggie to SLS,” Kyle said. “I don’t think I would be here without SLS, and it definitely helped guide me through getting into college.”
Another factor, Kyle and Henry said, was the help of former SLS academic advisor Victor Castillo ’13.
“Going into freshman year and not knowing anything and having your own personal advisor that helps you is probably the most helpful thing,” Kyle said. “He definitely led by way through freshman year and set me up for the next few years.”
For Henry, Castillo helped him navigate through his first year on campus — figuring out registration and resolving issues with Advanced Placement (AP) credits.
Castillo, currently an assistant director in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Mays Business School, also recalls his time with the Nguyen brothers positively.
“They were my top-notch kids in the program, and they’re both doing amazing things,” Castillo said. “It’s definitely a testament to their parents and how they were raised that they are two students in the same program doing amazing things at Texas A&M.”
In terms of their parents and the rest of their family, Kyle and Henry’s connection with them is one of the reasons they work so hard, they said.
“A part of striving to do well in general is to give back to our family and people that have helped us along the way,” Kyle said. “Our family has sacrificed a lot for us to be here — our parents had the life, and they chose to give it up.”
In fact, Henry said his decision to pursue a career in medicine with his biology background stems from its relevance within their household.
“I’ve always been surrounded by human anatomy since I was young, and I wanted to go into it because a lot of our family members are in medicine, so I wanted to dive into it too,” Henry said.
Kyle’s academic career at Texas A&M began in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, inhibiting his ability to connect with his classmates and make friends around campus. This posed an issue for him in his freshman year — and SLS was a welcome solution.
“With COVID year, not being able to meet anyone…it was definitely the pathway for me being here and getting started,” Kyle said.
Like his brother, Henry also found solace through SLS in terms of finding a group of friends.
“I thought it was going to be hard to meet new people and make new friends during my freshman year, and meeting with the members in my year definitely helped me,” Henry said. “Five people from SLS have been my friends since then, study buddies and all that stuff.”
Castillo notes that the scholar selection process is rigorous, governed in part by achievements as well as SAT/ACT scores. When Henry was chosen a year after Kyle, it was entirely by chance.
“The fact that they’re coming from the same household, both high-achieving students, first-generation, low income — it’s crazy how they both got into this elite program,” Castillo said. “We only pick about 20 kids each year out of the 800 incoming freshmen, so the fact that they both got in was amazing. They’re both funny, great kids. I love them to death.”
In addition to crediting Castillo and SLS, Henry said his older brother’s leadership and support have also been helpful.
“I really appreciate my older brother for paving the path for me,” Henry said. “We’re the same major, we take the same classes, so any questions I have, I can just ask him.”
To learn more about supporting first-generation students in the College of Arts and Sciences, contact the development team.