Lieu: A name TCU will never forget


    During her eight years at the university as a cashier in Market Square, Lieu, as she is known to most, touched the lives of many students.

    Students knew her for her kind heart, her shining smile and the way she greeted everyone at breakfast and lunch.

    What stood out most, though, was her incredible memory.

    It seemed there was not a single student whose name she did not know by heart. Nguyen said she does not have a gift. Remembering the names of hundreds of students, she said, "just happened."

    Her ability to address students by name made them feel loved and accepted.

    "During the slow times at the [Brown-Lupton University Union], I would have time to read the names on the IDs and match them to the faces," she said.

    “It was like she had known me forever," recent alumna Britni Williams said. "She greets everyone with the same compassion that she would greet one of her children. When times are really stressful and you really just need a smiling face, she was always there.”

    Last week, Nguyen announced her retirement via Facebook. Her post received over 2,000 likes and over 100 comments from her friends, many of whom are current or former Horned Frogs. Those who know Lieu, while saddened by her departure, also wish her well in her next journey.

    During her time at the university, Nguyen said she wanted to emulate a motherly role for incoming students. Her desire to do this stemmed from her son Michael Nguyen's experience at Austin University. 

    With Michael so far away from home, Nguyen said she wished there was a motherly figure to welcome and embrace her child.

    Lieu said she knew many TCU students were in the same boat as her son, and she said she wanted to support those missing their parents.

    She did this by welcoming every student that entered Market Square with a smile, she said.

    “I knew when Lieu was here, it was going to be a good day,” Melanie Gaw, a sophomore film, television and digital media major, said.

    Sarah Wells, a junior communication studies major, said, "When I transferred here, I didn't know a whole lot of people. Lieu would greet me in the cafeteria every day with a bright smile when I was having a bad day."

    Jeffrey Chatman, a junior entrepreneurial management major, said, “She is the face that is in Market Square every day smiling. She makes Market Square feel like home.”

    Nguyen often took her job a step further by helping students when she was off the clock. She said she went on walks, spoke on the phone and even chatted with students on Facebook.

    “One day I had a couple tests and I hadn’t had much sleep and was having a really tough day. I came to the BLUU to grab some grub and there was Lieu with that smile," Student Body President Cody Westphal said. "She pulled me aside and said, ‘Cody, you’re not your happy self,’ and I said, 'Yeah I’m having a bad day.' She and I got to talking and she just completely turned my day around. I talked to her and in a short amount of time she truly put a smile on my face for the rest of the day."

    Westphal, a junior finance major, also said she had the ability to change a student's day in a matter of seconds.

    "That was just her. In 15 seconds, she could change your day for the better. She is going to be dearly missed," he said. 

    For students like junior film, television and digital media major Ali Bleasdell, who said she sometimes felt trapped in the academic whirlwind of college, Nguyen served as motivation.

    “Her positivity just made it easier to get through the harder and stressful times," Bleasdell said.

    The former Market Square cashier's face lit up with a smile as she said her retirement days would be spent with her husband of 38 years, Wayne Nguyen.

    The couple plans on spending time with their three children, Tuan, Michael and Christina.

    When asked what she would like to tell all of her friends at the as she bids them farewell, Nguyen said she loves all of the students and wishes them success.

    She also said that TCU is the best school, and she is happy to have worked here.

    "I feel so thankful to have met her and I hope she knows she touched many with her attitude," Wells said. "She is a legend at TCU."

    Correction: A previous version of the story misspelled the name of one of Lieu's children.