Meet fall intern Dat, helping accelerate heat pumps in Minnesota

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Hailing from Wichita, Kansas, Fresh Energy’s new intern Dat Nguyen is in his fourth and final year at Macalester College in Saint Paul, where he is pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Community and Global Health. Dat’s clean energy internship fulfills both a requirement for his degree program and earns him course credit at Macalester. Dat was drawn to the Environmental Studies program at Macalester because it provided the perfect interdisciplinary blend of his interests in health sciences and policy.  

Dat is particularly interested in the intersection of public health, climate equity, and justice-oriented environmentalism. At Fresh Energy, Dat will be conducting research on heat pump deployment in the northeast U.S., with a focus on Maine, New York, and Massachusetts, to make recommendations for how best Minnesota can successfully transition its energy consumption away from fossil gas to zero- and low-carbon electric alternatives. He’s most excited about the connections he’ll make during his time with Fresh Energy and the opportunities he’ll have to grow his skills in a variety of areas.  

After graduating, Dat has a few ideas about how he’d like his career to unfold. “I’m considering medical school as one option,” he says. “Or at least working somewhere in the health field. I’d also be interested in moving into the environmental sector and seeing what’s out there for me—it lines up well with a lot of my interests.”  

Wherever he ends up after graduating from Macalester, Dat believes that it’s the people in his life who make it all worthwhile: “My favorite part of my college experience so far is the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve made. I’ve learned a lot from other people, especially about how to be radical in a way that is constructive, not destructive—that builds up community and builds up people in a very helpful way.” 

When asked how he feels about Minnesota weather, Dat laughs and responds: “I will say I much prefer Kansas weather. Although the rivers here are great—there really aren’t too many bodies of water in Kansas. And I live in a much bigger city now, in Saint Paul, than where I’m from. I really appreciate the urban lifestyle that comes with that.” Outside of studying and helping Fresh Energy accelerate the transition to clean energy in Minnesota’s workplaces, multifamily buildings, and homes, Dat enjoys playing volleyball and tennis, and spending time with friends, especially outside when the weather is nice.