Meet student Tommy Nguyen

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tommyTommy Nguyen, 24, from Salem

Navigating college doesn’t come easily for everyone. For students like Tommy Nguyen, limited guidance means a higher risk of getting lost in the shuffle.

Tommy, whose mom and dad migrated from Vietnam as teenagers, is not only a first generation college student but a first generation high school graduate as well. Growing up, college was never part of the plan. It was an Upward Bound mentor who encouraged him to enroll at Chemeketa.

Tommy felt discouraged and quickly became bored after placing into low-level classes. He turned his focus to the student social scene and made many friends. But it didn’t take long before he was watching from the sidelines as they graduated and moved on.

“I wasn’t on track because I didn’t have the guidance they did. I didn’t know where to turn. I wished I knew someone I could talk with or go to when I needed help being directed through college.”

He was at a crossroads on the verge of giving up when he met with Cristina Barba who taught him how to correctly apply for financial aid and informed him he could retake the placement test.

Tommy immediately purchased the ACT book and studied it for two months until he felt prepared to retake the placement test. His hard work paid off and he placed into higher courses. “I felt happy, I felt rejoiced. I was astonished. I couldn’t believe I actually did it.”

Through his own diligence and the support of faculty and staff, Tommy feels a renewed hope for his future.

“Everyone is on their own level of accomplishment and goals. Mine’s a little slower than everyone else’s, but I’m getting there.”