Hoa Nguyen was born and raised in the neighborhood of Versailles in New Orleans East. As a teenager, Nguyen was invited by her aunt to live with her at the Our Lady of Lavang convent in Portland, Oregon. After moving to Portland, Nguyen attended St. Mary's Academy during the school week and participated in the Lavang Parish language and catechism school on weekends. Nguyen attended Portland State University, where she obtained a degree in sociology. After college, she began her career in education. She first worked as a youth case manager and then became a SUN (Schools Uniting Neighborhoods) school coordinator. Currently, she is a school attendance coach for Portland Public Schools, working with students who struggle with chronic absenteeism. Nguyen has been the co-chair of the Asian American Youth Leadership Conference (AAYLC) for over ten years, and is a board member for Asian Pacific Islander (API) Forward. She was recently elected (since interviewing) to the School Board for the David Douglas School District.

In this interview, Nguyen discusses her move to Portland, her work and community involvement, and the experience of living in Vietnamese communities in both Portland and New Orleans. She begins her interview by describing her childhood and family in Versailles. She explains that, as a teenager, her aunt, who was a nun at Our Lady of Lavang Church, invited Nguyen to move to Portland and live in her convent. Nguyen describes the classes she took at Lavang, and the volunteer work that parish members did to help run educational programs and maintain the church. She goes on to describe her work with Portland Public Schools, her role as a board member for API forward, and her involvement with AAYLC. She then describes the documentary A Village Called Versaille, which documents the political activism of the New Orleans Vietnamese community in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She ends her interview by describing critical social and political issues for the Vietnamese community in Portland and New Orleans.