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Alumnus makes money to give it away

Kevin Vuong
Kevin Vuong, BMOS'11

Once driven by the desire to make money, Kevin Vuong, BMOS'11, had an "epiphany moment" while on a 2010 trade mission to Asia. Today, he makes money with plans to give it away.

"Growing up, we didn't have very much money. When that happens you just want to make as much money as possible, which is partly why I went into finance," said Vuong, a second generation immigrant whose parents were refugees from the Vietnam War. "I realized how lucky I was to have been born in Canada and to have pursued my education at such a great institution as Western. My way of thinking changed and I didn't want to just make as much money as possible – I wanted to do more than that."

The experience prompted him to look at ways to use his skills and knowledge to make a difference.

Vuong currently works for a number of Toronto organizations, including serving as Co-Chair of the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy and as President of the Southcore Community Association. He has also amassed an extensive list of accomplishments, including being named a 2017 Queen's Young Leader; one of Canada's Top 30 Under 30 in 2016; and one of Canada's Top Under 30 Pan-Asian Leader in 2014; one of Ashoka's 100 global Emerging Innovators; an RBC Emerging Scholar in 2015; a Geneva Challenge global finalist; and a Public Fellow as a leading Canadian thinker under 35 for the 2016 Spur Festival. He has also represented Canada at international forums including the 2010 G8 and G20 Summits, the 2013 G20 Summit, and was a Western News Newsmakers in 2014.

Currently, he volunteers his time with Western's DAN Management Alumni Council, as Chairman, and with Toronto's alumni chapter.

Despite all his volunteer work, Vuong felt like he could do more. With that in mind, he decided to make a planned gift to Western in his will that, when realized, will establish the Vuong Canadian Leadership Award to support a DAN program student who demonstrates a drive to give back to the community and support those less fortunate.

"Western is the No. 1 reason I'm where I am now. If anything I do helps even one student have an easier time, then I've done that," he said.

Following graduation, Vuong spent a few years in banking and capital markets, and then returned to Western to complete a master's degree in Geography. Halfway through the program, however, his family faced financial challenges that led him to withdraw and resume working full time in a new capacity.

In addition to serving in the Navy as an Intelligence Officer at Her Majesty's Canadian Ship YORK, Vuong is a 2017 candidate for the executive-level Global Professional Masters of Law at the University of Toronto. He is also Head of Municipal Partnerships at Ryerson University's Magnet Project, where he builds cross-sectoral partnerships across Canada, seeking to combat unemployment and underemployment among individuals who face barriers.

Although he jokingly admits "inner turmoil" working for an institution other than Western, his career is more in line with his commitment to the notion of "service before self" – a trait he hopes that future recipients of the Vuong Canadian Leadership Award will have.