Diane Nguyen, KFC team member in California with the RBD organization, is passionate about bringing medical care to people in Vietnam and around the world.
The first in her family to graduate high school, as well as the first to attend a four-year university, Diane has her sights set on making big waves in the world for the betterment of others. “I have chosen not to succeed for my own selfish desires,” says Diane, “but in hopes of empowering those who struggle to find it within themself.”
Diane is well on her way to achieving her goals. After starting with KFC in the summer of 2020, she began college last fall pursuing a major in biology, applied for the REACH Grant, won the REACH Grant AND won the prestigious Janet L. Kuhn Scholarship (more on this scholarship opportunity at the bottom of the page).
Read Diane’s winning essay for the honorable Janet L. Kuhn Scholarship below!
Tell us about someone from KFC or outside of work who has made a positive impact on your life. In what way have they impacted you? How have they helped shape who you are today?
Being a first-generation daughter of a Vietnamese immigrant family, I was raised with the saying “cho nhiều hơn bạn nhận” which translates to give more than you take. When I was a child, I didn’t realize the meaning behind this powerful phrase until one day at my church when I questioned my mother why she was donating when we needed the money for ourselves. She then walked me past a wall covered in pictures of children in Vietnam with deformities and amputated bodies and educated me about the lack of medical supplies to prevent infections or diseases let alone the surgeries. Medicine in Vietnam is for the wealthy while the majority are left with only natural medicine and healing. Many Vietnamese people are very superstitious and fear that children who suffer from deformities and mental disabilities are cursed. My guilt washed in as I was ashamed for asking such a selfish question, but my mother did not scold me; instead, she helped me recognize the privilege I had to be raised in the United States.
My mother left Vietnam with my father in hopes of giving me and my siblings the opportunities of a better life. She would often tell her childhood stories of her dropping out of 4th grade to sell candy in order to help provide a meal on the table for the family of 12. Coming to a new country led to many struggles and sacrifices, yet they worked hard to provide all the necessities for my family to achieve the American dream.
After that, I knew I needed to change my mentality. Rather than dwell and complain about my life, I aimed to find the positives and sought to create solutions. Growing up, I gained more insight to the problems around me with my mother’s guidance. Using my knowledge, I helped my siblings through their homework as well as tutor children who also struggled with learning since their parents did not receive the same education to help guide them. Gradually, I obtained more responsibility in high school and leadership positions. Motivated by the words from my mother, I was inspired to give back to others and raise fundraisers within my church to provide supplies for families in Vietnam struggling from poverty. My actions were rewarded with pictures of a smiling community grateful for their donations.
I plan on pursuing my education further into college to become a doctor and travel to developing countries in hopes of educating and spreading awareness about health. I understand the power of my education and the ability I have to impact another person’s life for the better. Driven by the opportunity that I can make for not only myself but others, I intend on traveling to Vietnam to introduce them to more sanitary ways of living and provide medical attention to those who cannot afford medicine. As I move towards a brighter future, I now recognize that my education and success is not for selfish motives, but for those in need.
“KFC is my very first job and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” says Diane. “Thank you to KFC for this opportunity to not only change my life, but the lives of the people around me.”
The next REACH Grant application is open Feb. 2-Mar. 25, 2021 and it is the ONLY application window in 2021; there will not be a fall application window this year. More than 500 grants will be awarded, totaling $1.4 million in college tuition assistance! If you’re an employee at a participating KFC restaurant* in the U.S. who is planning or wanting to attend college, trade/vocational school or grad school this fall, be sure to apply Feb. 2-Mar. 25 via the KFC Foundation mobile app or kfcfoundation.org.
About the Janet L. Kuhn Scholarship
Janet Kuhn, KFC Director of Training Execution, passed away suddenly in December 2016. In response to her passing, a memorial scholarship fund with the KFC Foundation was created by two generous KFC franchisees and KFC Corporation (KFCC).
One REACH Grant winner per application period is chosen to receive the Janet L. Kuhn Scholarship, and the competition is tough. To be considered for the award, you must complete an optional essay within the REACH application. Starting this year, we are upping the ante for the Janet L. Kuhn Scholarship—the selected winner will get their REACH Grant DOUBLED. That means, they could be awarded $4,000-$6,000 total!*To be eligible, you must work at a KFC restaurant participating in the KFC Foundation’s 2021 Cole Slaw Donation Program