I am humbled and honored to be the first Vietnamese speaker at a Middlesex Community College Commencement. My grandparents and mom came to the United States when she was a teen, wanting to give their children opportunities that they did not have.
Several years ago, I dropped out of high school after years of bullying beginning in the fourth grade. I used to be a regular boy, growing up with many friends until my family decided to move and I had to change elementary schools. I transitioned from having many friends to not having any. After I dropped out, I took my high school equivalency test, but I wasn’t sure about applying to colleges. I searched anyway. Fortunately, this search landed me on the MCC website.
I am a first generation student, which means my parents do not have college degrees. I didn’t understand the process of applying to college because I didn’t have the support system from my high school after I dropped out. Therefore, I navigated my way through after many emails and phone calls. I was finally accepted as a Business Administration major, which gave me hope. I’ll never forget celebrating my enrollment with my mom at McDonald’s.
When I came to MCC, I still did not have the drive for excellence. I was afraid of my negative high school experience starting all over again. Instead, I met influential friends and faculty that challenged me. I am proud to have served as Vice Chair of Student Government, Vice President of the Business Club, gone to the Diversity Summit and traveled to Morocco on a student trip. The faculty also nominated me to win the Core Commitment Service award for a student that displays the college’s core values of respecting diversity, striving for excellence, developing strong ethics and acting with integrity.
Now that I was in a positive environment, I was able to take risks and take advantage of opportunities that I wouldn’t have before. At one point, I even met one of my former bullies here at MCC and felt brave enough to approach her. I faced my fear to get closure and to let go of the pain to become stronger.
After graduating from MCC, I was accepted to the University of Massachusetts Amherst – Isenberg School of Management and Commonwealth Honors College. They offered me a scholarship to encourage my study at the Honors College. One day, I want to become a Chief Executive Officer of a corporation or start my own company.