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Two PCC students earn national scholarships from Coca-Cola Foundation
Photos and Story by James Hill
Portland Community College students Tuong Hoang and Quynh Do can add “national scholars” to their academic résumés.
The Coca-Cola Foundation and Phi Theta Kappa (honor society for two-year colleges) announced they are among a select few from around the country recognized by the foundation for their academic work. Hoang was named one of 50 community college students from the United States and American Samoa who are 2015 New Century Scholars while Do was one of 50 selected from across the country as this year’s Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholars. Hoang and Do will receive $2,000 and $1,500 in scholarships, respectively.
The New Century Scholars Program received more than 1,700 nominations from about 1,000 community colleges for selection. The scholars are picked by a consortium that includes the Coca-Cola Foundation, PTK, and the American Association of Community Colleges. The Coca-Cola Gold Scholars are based on scores the student earned in the All-USA Community College Academic Team competition and is sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and Phi Theta Kappa.
Tuong Hoang – New Century Scholar
Hoang is a 20-year-old international student from Vietnam who lives in Beaverton with a host family. The Rock Creek Campus student, who came to Portland in 2012, has been studying at the Beaverton campus for the past three years after starting in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program. She is now earning credits in the Mechanical Engineering Technology Program and works as a student leader, serving as a club coordinator and director of programming. Hoang, who volunteers for the campus’ International Student Club, is hoping to transfer to either Oregon State or Portland State universities.
The announcement was perfect timing for Hoang.
“It was a great way to celebrate my birthday,” said Hoang, who has a 3.88 grade-point average and is on the college’s Dean and President’s Lists as well as the All-Oregon Academic Team 2015. “I’m really excited. I love PCC.”
Hoang said the mechanical engineering field is perfect for her love of problem-solving and dreams of developing a company where people can order products off the internet that they can print out on their home 3D printers. She also wants to serve the community by mentoring women of color in the engineering field. In 2014, Hoang was the activity coordinator for the Rock Creek Campus Harvest Festival, assisting the college’s +STEAM Club to inspire children and women to enter the science and math fields. She also organized the Rock Creek MLK Food Drive, collecting 2,000 pounds of food for the campus cantina to assist hungry, in-need students.
“One of my goals is to continue my community engagement,” Hoang said. “I would love to mentor new international students, or women and minority groups who want to be in the engineering field. I want to give them support to show that they can do it.”
Quynh Do – Coca-Cola Gold Scholar
Do, also from Vietnam, was selected as a 2015 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholar and attends the Cascade Campus in North Portland.
Two years ago, the Southeast Portland resident immigrated to the U.S. with her family. With her parents unable to speak English and working in low-income jobs, Do wasn’t encouraged to go to college because some extended family thought it was too expensive and that she couldn’t compete with American students.
“At some point, I thought I would just give up on education and just find a job to help my parents, but they would not let me do so,” said Do, who also earned the Coca Cola Leader of Promise Scholarship last fall. “They told me I should keep the faith in myself and that was why I decided to enroll in PCC and become the first person in my family to go to college.
“The scholarships helped me to realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by such supportive people at PCC including my instructors and coordinators, and those who inspired me with their stories of moving on from past mistakes and being successful at school,” she added.
The 22-year-old sports a 4.0 GPA and has been on the college President’s List since fall term of 2013. She will finish her associate degree in June and transfer to either Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma or Seattle Pacific University in Seattle to finish her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. She wants to eventually apply to a pharmacy school.
Do is volunteering four hours a week at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Wash., in its Anticoagulation Clinic. In addition, she works as the Cascade Campus student government diversity retention coordinator and assists the International Student Union. She also works at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry in the Early Childhood Education and Chemistry Lab departments. Everything she is doing at PCC and in the community, she said, is driving her toward her end goal.
“I come from a family with many medical issues such as cancer, diabetes, chronic heart disease, and high blood pressure, so I was growing up knowing I would become a health worker one day to find the cure to diseases,” Do added. “When I was a little older I found my passion with chemistry and that was why I wanted to go into pharmaceutical field.”