Since College Possible Portland was founded in 2012, we have been eagerly awaiting our first college graduate. Anyone who nurtures and supports the dreams of young people can relate to the hard work and dedication our coaches put into advising students, the persistence of our leadership team in identifying scholarship opportunities and the anticipation across our entire site as we shared our students journeys toward their college degrees.
The celebration we anticipated when that first graduate crossed the stage to accept his or her well-deserved diploma came this past June – a year early – when Ha-Quyen Nguyen earned her degree from Portland State University in just three years. She graduated with majors in business management, leadership and human resources.
Nguyen always knew she wanted to go to college, and when she heard about College Possible during her junior year of high school, she seized the opportunity to let it support her efforts to get there.
The work was not easy. “Imagine every weekend for about a year, you have to wake up at 7 a.m. to get to Reynolds at 8 a.m. and take your ACT practice until 12 p.m.,” she remembered, emphasizing the word practice. “Everyone hated it. I hated it.”
Yet when everyone saw their real ACT results, she said, they were thankful for the push.
Nguyen went on to earn the Dale Krueger scholarship, along with others that allowed her to attend and graduate from Portland State University debt-free.
Now Nguyen is on the other side. She’s currently an AmeriCorps member serving with College Possible as a senior high school coach, guiding students through the scholarship process, applying for financial aid and earning admittance to college.
“We feel incredibly privileged that our very first college graduate has opted to come back and serve with us,” Julie Mancini, executive director said. “Ha-Quyen could have done anything. For her to take a year to devote to service and College Possible students who are in a similar place as she was five years ago is just incredible. We’re lucky to have her on our team.”
What’s next for Nguyen? “I have two tracks that I will be choosing: the first track is to go to graduate school and get my masters in international business to become a project manager. My second track is to go to graduate school and get my masters in counseling to pursue a job within organizations like TRIO Student Support Services or as a college advisor.
“I truly do not know…but College Possible, and being a coach, will lead me to where I need to go.”