November 3, 2023
Pursuing fulfillment by connecting with the natural world
An Nguyen
An Nguyen was awarded one of twelve $1,000 Post-Secondary Scholarships offered by the Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation (OHTF) in 2022. Originally from Vietnam, Nguyen decided to pivot from her career in the financial sector toward a greener future by enrolling in the two-year Landscape Technician diploma program at Humber College. Nguyen says her professors at Humber introduced her to the OHTF scholarships and encouraged her to apply. Now that she has graduated, Nguyen hopes to pursue a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture. After that, Nguyen says she’s interested in earning the Certified Landscape Designer (CLD) designation to further enhance her skills and knowledge in the field.

Did you have any exposure or classes that prepared you in high school?

I did not have any prior exposure or classes in landscape/horticulture before starting this program. Instead, I focused on studying classes that were geared towards the national exam to enter universities while in high school in Vietnam.

What work experience do you have relating to landscape/horticulture?

I have volunteered in various horticulture projects in the past, primarily involving tree planting activities. More recently, I have become a part of the garden stewardship program run by LEAF. As a volunteer, my role is to assist in the transformation of underutilized areas of turf in four TTC stations into beautiful demonstration gardens that exhibit native trees, shrubs and perennials. The purpose of this program is to inspire community members to consider incorporating native species into their own gardens and communities.

What prompted you to pursue a career in landscape or horticulture?

My educational background and career path were primarily focused on corporate finance, and I had been working in that sector for over 14 years. While I had some notable achievements during that time, I found myself feeling unfulfilled due to a mismatch in values between myself and the financial sector. Despite my success, I spent most of my time in the office and didn't feel like I was making a positive impact on my community. As someone who admires nature, I realized that I could only achieve a sense of fulfillment by connecting with the natural world and making a positive impact on the environment. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of pursuing what truly matters to me, and I began researching horticulture and landscape jobs. After a year of exploration, I decided to enroll in the Landscape Technician program at Humber College to pursue a new career that aligned with my values and passion for nature.

What career path do you plan to take after graduation?

My short-term goal is to gain more experience by working for a landscape design company within the next couple of years. However, in the long run, I aspire to establish my own design and consultancy company that specializes in providing sustainable solutions for environmental challenges in urban areas through urban landscape design.

Is there anyone in the landscape profession who has particularly inspired you?

I hold Mr. Haig Seferian in high regard. He is the founder of Seferian Design Group, a renowned lecturer, and author with a wealth of expertise in designing breathtaking landscapes and leading teams to deliver award-winning landscape designs. Haig is widely recognized as a prominent figure in the landscape industry. He not only exhibits strong leadership skills but also dedicates his time to mentor students tirelessly. I find it easy to confide in him about my thoughts and challenges in the landscape industry, and he never fails to exhibit his passion, patience and provide guidance. His work and personality have been a great source of inspiration to me in pursuing this path.

What do you love most about building a career in the green profession?

I find great satisfaction in my work with plants and creating landscape designs that not only enhance the beauty of the environment but also improve the quality of life for individuals and communities. It's rewarding to know that my efforts are contributing to a positive impact on people's lives and the environment around them. Seeing the transformation of a space from a blank canvas to a flourishing landscape brings me a sense of accomplishment and pride. Additionally, I am motivated by the potential for my work to promote sustainable solutions that benefit both humans and the planet. Overall, the combination of creativity, environmental consciousness and the opportunity to make a difference is what makes this career so fulfilling for me.

The Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation is a charitable organization whose mandate is to ensure a healthy future for the horticulture industry. To learn more about the many scholarships available under the Foundation and Cullen Family Scholarship Program, please visit The deadline to apply each year is June 30.