Jannette Nguyen (Col ’20) is a first-generation college student. As a high school senior in Houston, she received a full scholarship allowing her to attend UVA. Currently a third-year student, she recently returned from a summer internship at Goldman Sachs in New York City. Here, in her own words, she describes how a scholarship changed her life.
I still remember the summer my aunt and uncle told me that it was time to live with my real family again. At age 14, I was confused as to why I had lived with other families for the last three years. No one told me that my mom was hearing voices. No one told me about the pills she had to take. No one realized how much she had been struggling.
After I moved back, months passed filled with hospital visits, talks with psychiatrists, and a doctor’s list full of complex medical terms. Each day, as soon as my alarm rang at 7 a.m., I put a colorful assortment of pills into my mom’s day-of-the-week medicine box. Failure to give the right medication at the right time would result in anxiety, depression, and threatening voices for her.
I was under such tremendous pressure to care for my mom while balancing extracurricular activities and rigorous classes that I developed ulcers. My dad was working overtime, so I spent my days studying for AP classes and SATs while constantly keeping an eye on my mom. Neither my friends nor my teachers bothered to ask what was happening at home. No one seemed to care. I was desperate and driven to pursue a college education.
When I stood on the stage to receive my scholarship, I cried. I cried for all those years I was sad and confused. I cried for what this meant for my immigrant family’s and extended family’s sacrifices and for all of the great things this scholarship would offer me in the future.
I’m tremendously grateful for all of the love and support I’ve received. My fellow Posse Scholarship recipients and mentors stood by me during my entire journey, encouraging me as I fought tooth-and-nail to land on the Dean’s List and prepping me for my interview for a dream internship at Goldman Sachs.
Not all scholarship students can count on the same support network, so I’m working to create opportunities for others and I’m committing my life to helping students who grew up like me. A scholarship check alone does not solve a disadvantaged student’s problems, but each day becomes more bearable because of my scholarship and my friends’ support. They gave me guidance and encouragement. My scholarship has allowed me to live out the American Dream.