October 15, 2015

Make your own way

Kevin Nguyen was a featured speaker at this week’s Tiger Woods Invitational dinner and reception. 

Hello, my name is Kevin Nguyen, and I am a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in computer engineering/computer science and a minor in musical studies in piano. I was born in America as the only child of two immigrant parents who came from Vietnam. Being the only child of parents who did not have the opportunity to finish school, I didn’t know much about attending college. While I was applying for college and financial aid, I flew blindly. When I started applying for scholarships, I found an application to the Earl Woods Scholarship Program, but even then, I was only looking at it with dollar-sign-tinted lenses. However, I have since realized that the money paled in comparison to the amount of aid, mentorship and lifelong lessons I received. 

This program changed my life in all aspects. Instead of starting college as an unprepared student, I came primed with not only knowledge, but a support network of friends and mentors I could rely on. It was the first time I realized I could rely on more than just myself. Although my parents were there for me every step of the way as moral support, they never had the opportunity to deal with the issues I had in college before, and so having mentors willing to listen to my worries, no matter how frivolous, made me feel very lucky.

Kevin Nguyen speaks at the Tiger Woods Invitational about his experience in the Earl Woods Scholarship Program

Thanks to the skills I learned from this program, I was able to become an officer in many different organizations: president of the Vietnamese Student Association, internships at different companies, and ultimately land my job as an engineer at DIRECTV (now AT&T). The skills I developed through the program helped me get through nerve-racking interviews, career fairs, and even just meeting people in the industry with an air of confidence that helped me get to where I am today. Not only that, I have been able to pass these skills on to others, becoming a mentor to younger students. 

I have found lifelong friends with fellow scholars my age who I never would have met otherwise, who inspire me every day with works of charity, hard work in school and careers, and unwavering loyalty no matter the distance and time between all of us. Without this program, I would never have met them, but now, I could not imagine my life without them.

Kevin Nguyen gets a handshake at the Tiger Woods Invitational

The Earl Woods Scholarship Program is a one-of-a-kind scholarship program. I can say that with confidence from a first-hand experience. This program changes lives and certainly changed my life. I discovered my own talents and a support group that carried me throughout my journey. Not only did it provide me with crucial funding for school, but it also gave me relationships and skills to last a lifetime. This program gave me the ability to trust in myself and grow into an independent college graduate with a job. This program takes students from all sorts of backgrounds and helps give them the tools to blaze their own pathways and enables them to help change the world. 

I stand here before you all not only as Kevin Nguyen, a college graduate and an engineer, but as a proud Earl Woods scholar, ready to seize the world with my own two hands.