Canh-Vinh Nguyen is an embodiment of what it means to lead a purpose-driven life.
Canh-Vinh’s passion for serving her community and promoting human equity is truly inspiring. Her tireless dedication to making a positive impact on the lives of others has earned her the title of Miss World Australia’s 2023 state finalist.
At the age of 18, Canh-Vinh laid the foundation for her community service by establishing a charity called “Canh-Vinh and You Incorporated”. What started as a small initiative has since grown into an impactful organization that continues to make a difference in people’s lives. Her charity work was only the beginning of her efforts to serve her community.
Over the years, she has also served as a consumer advisor for the local health system, volunteering as social support in the emergency department, rehabilitation, and short-stay ward at the local hospital.
Canh-Vinh’s story is an inspiration to people of all ages and backgrounds, and serves as a reminder that we all have the power to make a difference in the world, no matter how small our actions may seem.
“I am genuinely excited to share my journey, my passion, and my unwavering dedication with others, spreading the message that “anything is possible” and hopefully making some meaningful connections. Together, let us create a world that embraces inclusivity and compassion,” Canh-Vinh told AHN.
CANH-VINH’S EXPERIENCES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
As an Australian Vietnamese, I am proud of my heritage and forever grateful for the opportunities this country has provided not only to my family but to many others as well.
Being the first person in my family to attend university, I am a woman in STEM, with a bachelor’s degree in biomedicine, achieving first-class honors, and a completed Master’s of Research focused on metastatic cancers, my ultimate goal is to become a physician. I strongly believe that everyone deserves to understand and feel empowered in managing their health while having access to the best possible care. This pursuit is fueled by my gratitude for the incredible healthcare system we have in Australia, as it saved my mother’s life and protected us from the hardships faced by others if we were anywhere else in the world.
Throughout my educational journey, I have remained dedicated to serving the community. Moreover, I am deeply committed to inspiring young individuals to give forward and recognize their potential to create significant change, particularly in this challenging world and specially for the less fortunate. Alongside our charity projects, volunteering for my local community has been a transformative experience in my life. It has sustained me on my toughest days, knowing that my actions can bring something positive to the world.
In addition to my academic pursuits and charitable work, I actively volunteer and contribute as a consumer advisor for Western Health, the fastest-growing health provider managing both large and small public hospitals in my local community. Through this role, I have been involved in significant projects such as the opening of the Joan Kirner Hospital, the planning and review of the New Footscray Hospital Project, and the initiation of the planning for the New Melton Hospital.
Furthermore, I proudly serve as Vice President of the Lions Club of Sunshine, a local community club that engages in various initiatives. These include fundraising through sausage ‘snag’ sales, preventing neighborhood crimes by installing anti-theft screws for number plates, supporting farmers affected by floods through tree planting initiatives, and providing aid to Polynesian island countries like Samoa by sending containers with essential goods for hospitals, schools, clothing, and toys.
CANH-VINH AND YOU INCORPORATED
My vision is to create a more equitable world by sharing the privileges I have received in life, even though my efforts may not be as significant as others’. I believe that gratitude is my greatest strength, and I possess the ability to connect with others and bring them together.
This mindset has guided me since founding our Australian registered charity, “Canh-Vinh and You Incorporated” at the age of eighteen, driven by the belief that every moment counts and embracing the philosophy of “live as if you’ll die tomorrow.” However, achieving this dream did not happen overnight. It was a culmination of multiple events and the support of other members, mentors, and supporters.
From a young age, I witnessed the philanthropic work of my parents in Vietnam, where they set aside savings to provide rice for their former village. During high school, I had the privilege of attending an all-girls Brigidine high school with a strong emphasis on justice and fundraising clubs. This experience was transformative as it allowed me to discover my leadership potential and taught me how to represent others and manage projects.
After graduating, I desired to continue volunteering with friends, but it was challenging to garner interest. However, by identifying the limitations of existing projects and the creativity constraints felt by my friends, the idea of starting our own charity sparked. Overcoming initial challenges and skepticism, we persevered and successfully registered the charity, obtaining the necessary tax exemption and gift receipts with the assistance of a free legal aid service. The journey was far from easy, filled with late nights, setbacks, discouragement, and tears. However, when I shifted my perspective and found empowerment in realizing that the criticism and doubt from others were projections of their own limitations, not reflective of our potential it made all the difference.
Today, almost a decade later, I am proud to say that our charity is still entirely volunteer-run. Although time constraints and periodic dormancy pose challenges, we remain highly efficient, utilizing every dollar fundraised and profit for our charity projects. We strive to be a trusted point of contact for individuals seeking to contribute and provide assistance. Over the years, we have helped tens of thousands of families through our projects, including donations of rice, noodles, condiments, funding eye surgeries, scholarships, and more.
Our focus is on supporting lonely and homeless elderly individuals, people with disabilities, those affected by Agent Orange, and orphans. Above all, we aim to instill compassion in everyone who crosses our path, whether through attending an event, volunteering or engaging with us. We understand that life can become busy, and even if someone’s involvement with our charity is brief, we hope that the seed of compassion we plant will one day blossom into something amazing.
MISS WORLD AUSTRALIA
Being a state finalist for Miss World Australia has granted me increased visibility and recognition, enabling me to forge valuable collaborations, partnerships, and connections with like-minded individuals and organizations who share similar aspirations. My primary goal is to inspire younger generations to fearlessly pursue their passions and make a positive impact in their communities. This objective is deeply significant to me as I firmly believe that the way we inspire and guide the younger generation today will shape our future and the destiny of our world.
A core aspect of my advocacy revolves around promoting the importance of volunteerism and dispelling the misconception that it is a fading practice. Countless individuals in our world require assistance without expecting anything in return. It is particularly challenging for those who face disadvantages and lack the same privileges and opportunities as others. By acknowledging our blessings, gratitude becomes a compelling force that propels us forward, fostering a sense of purpose and empathy.
Through my voice and influence, I am dedicated to empowering and uplifting others, urging them to join causes, create meaningful change, and embrace a sense of belonging to something greater than themselves. A quote that I love by Dr. Brené Brown beautifully encapsulates this sentiment: “Belonging is being part of something bigger than yourself. But it’s also the courage to stand alone and to belong to yourself above all else.” It highlights the importance of both finding connection and staying true to oneself in the pursuit of making a difference.
Moreover, my increased visibility and recognition have provided an invaluable opportunity to raise awareness for the charity I founded nearly a decade ago. Our organization operates solely through the selfless efforts of volunteers, ensuring that every donation directly benefits those in need. It brings me immense pride and joy to know that the hard-earned contributions from our supporters have a meaningful impact on the lives of the less fortunate.
WHAT KEEPS CANH-VINH MOTIVATED
In times of adversity, it has been gratitude that helped me shift my perspective and find the silver linings.
I have come to realize what fuels me is not just self-belief and confidence but it is gratitude, a powerful driving force that propels me forward. It is being grateful for the privileges I have had in this life that has motivated me to work harder each day to be of service to others. Instead of dwelling on what I lacked or the challenges I faced, I focused on the progress I had already made and teachers’ and mentors’ willingness to invest their time and energy in my growth. This shift in mindset allowed me to tap into my resilience and find the courage to persevere.
Moreover, gratitude fueled my passion for making a difference in the lives of others. Recognizing the privileges and opportunities I have been given, I felt a deep sense of responsibility to give back and contribute to the well-being of those less fortunate. It motivated me to use my skills, knowledge, and resources to uplift others, whether through volunteering, mentoring, or advocating for meaningful causes.
IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A SENSE OF PURPOSE ACCORDING TO CANH-VINH
In my opinion, a sense of purpose is not only highly important but also deeply transformative. It serves as a driving force that provides motivation, meaning, resilience, and a sense of fulfillment in life. When we have a clear sense of purpose, it guides our actions, shapes our identity, and gives us a profound understanding of the “why” behind our existence.
During moments of doubt or uncertainty, our sense of purpose acts as a beacon of light, lifting us up and reminding us of our intrinsic value and the impact we can have on the world. It serves as a powerful source of inspiration, urging us to persevere, overcome obstacles, and continue striving toward our goals.
While it is true that nothing in this material world can be held onto forever, cultivating a sense of purpose allows us to transcend the temporary nature of our existence. It enables us to focus on the legacy we can leave behind and the positive contributions we can make. Embracing the law of impermanence, which teaches us that everything has a beginning, middle, and ending, encourages us to make the most of the time we have on this earth. By nurturing a sense of purpose and using our time, talents, and resources to create a positive ripple effect, we can make a difference that extends far beyond our own lifetime. I think this is where true fulfillment resides – in knowing that our actions have the potential to touch the lives of others and contribute to a more compassionate, harmonious, and interconnected world.
THE IMPACT SHE HOPES TO ACHIEVE
One of the primary goals of my work is to inspire others to take action against injustices. I firmly believe that everyone has the power to create change, and even small contributions can make a significant difference. Like many others, I am an ordinary individual without inherent power or influence, but I refuse to let that discourage or underestimate me. While volunteering may not be a difficult task in itself, what makes it truly noble is people who choose to spend their time doing something for others knowing it cannot be returned. My father once shared a valuable lesson with me: “When you help someone in need, they may someday be the ones to extend a helping hand to others.” The idea that I could become a ripple, contributing to the larger wave of positive action and lasting impact, fills me with a lot of happiness.
I guess, ultimately, I hope that in some way, my actions and words can ignite a spark within others, leading them to accomplish even greater things.
ADVICE FOR YOUNGER PEOPLE IN MAKING A DIFFERENCE
My advice would be to begin your journey by starting locally. Take the time to explore the issues or causes that deeply resonate with you and make you feel passionate. Educate yourself on the topic, gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges and potential solutions.
Next, reflect on your unique skills, talents, and interests. Consider how you can apply these strengths to make a meaningful difference in your community. It could be as simple as offering a helping hand to your neighbors, volunteering at a local community organization, supporting a youth group, or assisting at a hospital. Remember that you don’t always need to have pre-existing skills; the most important thing is to take the initiative and show up! The rest will follow as you learn and grow along the way.
It’s important to have an open mindset and embrace the possibility of trial and error. There may be times when you join an organization or group that doesn’t align perfectly with your vision or passion. Don’t let this discourage you. Keep persevering and believe that there is a place out there that shares your passion and works towards the same goals. Trust that with dedication and an open heart, you will find a meaningful avenue to contribute to your community. And most importantly, enjoy the journey and have fun while making a difference!