Thuan Tran is co-winner of the Colonel John Taylor Rhett History Manuscript Award for the best history senior thesis. A history major, he also minored in Asian studies and is graduating with a Certificate of Community Engagement through volunteer work in the Bonner Program.
Thuan was awarded the History Department's Evans Johnson Research Grant for work on his senior thesis, "Reassessing the Rise and Fall of the Winston Churchill of Southeast Asia: Ngo Dinh Diem of Vietnam and the United States, 1949-1963." The thesis analyzed the career of President Ngo Dinh Diem of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the "Winston Churchill of Southeast Asia” according to then-U.S. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. Assassinated in a military coup during 1963, Diem had been criticized for political incompetence and dependence on American military support. However, Thuan's thesis argued otherwise, suggesting instead that Diem was an effective leader whose downfall was caused by communal identity politics and disastrous religious policies. His thesis drew praise from professors.
Thuan intends to take a gap year following graduation.