Shaunda Shaw & Shineil Taylor
Brianna Ebony Simpson
Eight years ago, a teenager in Vietnam dreamed big. Though shy, she excelled in school and knew she could do more, if only she could move to the United States to pursue her education.
“You are too young,” her father told Huong Vu. She was only 15.
She didn’t give up. She studied hard and ranked first in all of her classes. She attended the best university in Vietnam. She researched U.S. colleges and universities. Because she wanted to be an industrial engineer, she zeroed in on Georgia Tech. But she wondered how she ever would afford to go there.
Then she discovered she could come to Georgia Perimeter College, and – through GPC’s Regents Engineering Transfer Program – take core subjects and transfer to Georgia Tech.
Meanwhile, Huong Vu worked to persuade her father. She told him she wanted to experience the world, wanted to be a successful person for the family and wanted to help others. He eventually agreed. “Show me what you can do,” he told her.
So, at age 19, she set out for the United States – and Georgia Perimeter College. Huong Vu discovered that being alone in a new country was difficult. But she found work, made friends and enrolled at Georgia Perimeter College, where she participated in the college’s English as a Second Language program AND its Honors program.
Huong Vu also found financial support at the college, where she was awarded five scholarships through the Georgia Perimeter College Foundation. On May 4, Huong Vu graduated from Georgia Perimeter College with a 4.0 GPA and not just one, but two, associate degrees – in Mathematics and in Business Administration.
That’s not all. She is one of two GPC students this year to receive the prestigious national Jack Kent Cooke scholarship, which provides up to $90,000 – up to $30,000 annually for three years – to continue her education. With the help of the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship, she can fulfill her dream to attend Georgia Tech, where she will major in industrial engineering, eventually specializing in health systems.
When Huong Vu learned of her selection as a Jack Kent Cooke scholar, she wrote to GPC English instructor Mary Helen Ramming, recalling how Ramming had helped her -- academically and culturally.
“It was you, Ms. Ramming, who introduced the Fugees Family volunteer program to me, a shy girl, and it indeed changed my view of the world.” Huong wrote. “I became more involved in school activities and started to dream bigger. Your strong teaching style impressed me. … I am proud to have you as my teacher and my inspiration.”