By Judy Tacyn
Aaron Nguyen and Dominick Duncan first met at Oak Hill Elementary School and were both first-graders when they joined the school’s Boy Scout troop. Now freshmen at Severna Park and Northeast high schools, respectively, the longtime friends stood together to receive their Eagle Scout pins at Our Shepherd Lutheran Church on Benfield Road on February 23 as the newest members of Boy Scout Troop 857 to earn the coveted Eagle Rank.
Scoutmaster Schelly Taylor announced the call to order before more than 100 friends, family members and fellow scouts gathered to honor the teens.
There was likely no one at the ceremony more proud of Aaron’s accomplishments in scouting than his father, Vincent Nguyen, who spoke about communistic restrictions against scouting that prohibits similar organizations from assembling in his native Vietnam. Wearing his Troop 857 leader uniform, Vincent beamed with pride when he cloaked his son with the Eagle neckerchief.
“Starting as a Cub Scout, becoming a Boy Scout, completing all of the required merit badges, and ranking up as Eagle Scout, have taught me a lot,” said Aaron. “My scout journey has taught me perseverance, hard work, planning, giving back to the community, leadership skills, friendship, trust, courage, how to have fun, and how to prioritize activities. It has helped me build confidence and become a better person.”
For his Eagle project, Aaron built and installed a wheelchair-accessible outdoor table for the Cisco Center, which specializes in working with students diagnosed with autism, developmental disabilities, speech or language disorders, and learning disabilities.
Cisco Nochera, executive director and founder of the Cisco Center Foundation Inc., met Aaron as a 3-year-old. “He was always a very sweet and caring child who always looked out for others,” Nochera said. “This characteristic has continued to this day. He reached out to me on his own and offered to give back in the form of a wheelchair-accessible picnic table. The table is wonderful and will be put to good use throughout the year, especially in the warmer months.”
Aaron said the table will allow children using wheelchairs to join in the outdoor activities. “Now all children will be able to sit together at an activity table,” he added.
Dominick shared a story of seeing an elderly man at his church, Magothy United Methodist Church on Mountain Road in Pasadena, who had difficulty walking the campus grounds. For his Eagle project, Dominick built and installed two sitting benches along a pathway to the church’s chapel.
“I thought it would be helpful for people who couldn’t walk as easily as I can to have a place to sit, relax and just kind of enjoy the outdoors,” said Dominick. “With the help of my troop, we were able to build the benches in one day and carry them to their installation spot the next day.”
Sitting in the front row, Dominick’s great-grandparents dabbed tear-filled eyes for their grandson. “I am the first person in my family to achieve this honor,” said Dominick, “so it’s pretty special.”
For Renee Burton, Dominick’s great-grandmother, the recognition followed years of supporting Dominick’s scouting goals. “I am just so proud of him. He’s overcome so much,” said Renee.