For Phoebe Nguyen, North Lake College became her second chance in life.
Da Nang, Vietnam is home for Phoebe. But “home” was a place where she felt ashamed about not being able to live up to the expectations set by her parents. Being the oldest of three siblings, she felt very pressured and stressed. “My parents are pretty strict,” Phoebe says. “I was afraid of making mistakes, and I wanted to run away because of the high standards they created for me.”
Paving the way for a new path
After graduating high school, Phoebe began to think about continuing her education in the United States. She explains, “I thought, if I give myself a new environment, it would give me a new start in life.”
After contemplating, she started the process of becoming a foreign exchange student in America. She completed all of the required paperwork and scheduled an interview, which was rumored to be hard for people to successfully get through. “I answered three questions asked by the American interviewer, and I passed the interview,” Phoebe shares. “I couldn’t believe how quick the process was for me.”
Two weeks after the interview, she traveled to the U.S. to embark on her new journey.
The creation of a new beginning
Before arriving to North Lake, Phoebe spent time at a university in Atlanta, Georgia, where it was difficult to receive scholarships to continue her education. It wasn’t long before a relative living in the Dallas/Fort Worth area reached out and encouraged her to attend community college. She says, “My aunt told me I would be able to save money, get experience, practice English, and have more opportunities to receive scholarships.”
In the fall of 2015, she made the move from Atlanta to Dallas. “After I started my first semester at North Lake, I knew I wanted to stay here before transferring to a university.”
Phoebe began to write a new chapter in her life. In addition to taking 15-18 hours per semester, she is very active on campus. She serves as Vice President of Service of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) chapter, treasurer of the Student Government Association (SGA), and secretary of the International Club.
Balancing various responsibilities
She also works to help her aunt raise her cousin and takes a lot of responsibility in their household. So, how does she juggle all these responsibilities?
One method of organization she uses daily is a planner. While some may think it is old fashioned to physically write out plans on paper, Phoebe suggests it is one of the best ways in maintaining organization. “I like to see what I am planning ahead of time,” she explains. “It helps me keep track of everything I have going on, so I don’t forget anything.”
Although students may not share the same priorities, Phoebe has chosen to focus primarily on school. She says, “For me, education comes first.”
Moving forward and pursuing passion
Phoebe is currently finishing her last semester at North Lake and will graduate this spring. She plans to transfer to a university and major in biomedical engineering. “I’m interested in learning more about how the human body works, but I’m also good at numbers,” she shares. She dreams of making medical devices to help others.
While Phoebe grew up with strict parents, their high expectations have kept her motivated. She is thankful for her decision of studying abroad because she has been able to see how others view their dreams. “I’ve been encouraged by some Americans who are so passionate about what they love, and they’re taking the steps to do the things they really want to do in life.”
As she continues her journey, she is taking one step at a time towards living out her passions.