Nhi, a 2015 graduate of West Ottawa High School, attends Grand Valley State University and plans to become a nurse.
When she arrived in Holland in 2011, Nhi spoke scarcely a word of English. Her aunt, a U.S. citizen, had come to visit Nhi’s family in Vietnam and saw how difficult the economic situation was for them. She offered to sponsor the family to come to Holland, Michigan.
Nhi’s parents encouraged her to study hard in high school and to learn English well enough so that one day she might be the first in their family to graduate with a college degree.
Nhi credits Hope College Trio’s Upward Bound for helping her to overcome her shyness, a result of being new and in a strange culture. She is also so thankful for the coach they provided to help her with her English.
Elizabeth Colburn, Director of Hope College Trio Upward Bound had this to say about Nhi:
“Nhi’s success in overcoming personal and environmental obstacles — including learning the English language — are an inspiration! Access to a college education is so important to Nhi that she chose to remain in the United States with extended family when her parents decided it would be best to return to Vietnam with her younger sister. Since her family’s return to the U.S., Nhi assumed the responsibility of translator and advocate for the family regarding their educational, medical and housing situations. While dealing with all of this may have seemed overwhelming at times, it never prevented Nhi from achieving an academic record that reflects her commitment to a college education, her school and overall community.”
In her junior year, Nhi was a part of the Future Prep’d Academy offered by Gentex Corporation in Holland. The program allows students to see and experience several different career opportunities within businesses and organizations in order to gain useful skills that can be applied to whatever path they may choose to pursue in the future.
What did receiving the H/Z Promise Scholarship mean to Nhi?
Though she was awarded one-time scholarships including the Foundation’s Integrated Fabric Resources, Inc. Employee Scholarship, her family would have had to help her take out student loans which might have amounted to close to $50,000. One can only imagine how difficult this would have been for her family in a new culture and with few financial resources.
When Nhi received news of the H/Z Promise Scholarship she and her parents were overjoyed. Nhi says one of the first things they did was call her grandparents in Vietnam to tell them the news!
Nhi’s advice to high school students:
“No matter how hard life is you don’t give up. Keep moving forward. Don’t be afraid to seek help. And learn from your mistakes.”
To learn more about the Holland/Zeeland Promise Scholarship, visit www.cfhz.org/hzpromise