When Vi Nguyentran was a young girl, her grandparents would tell her to “Do your education.” Growing up, Nguyentran laughed it off, but now, as a senior at Hermitage High School with a 4.5 GPA, she understands the importance of ‘doing her education.’
A year ago, Nguyentran found out she had a brain tumor and had to have it removed.
“I was finally aware of why massive headaches and long moments of blurred vision occurred and finally got it removed,” she said. “Missing so much of school and everything else that was important to me, I slowly came back to my regular life even before I was really cleared.”
Now, Nguyentran wants to study to become a pediatrician and possibly focus on neuroscience by also pursuing a psychology minor. Ultimately, she wants to return to her grandparents’ home country, Vietnam, to help impoverished children.
“I have seen the innumerable struggles that some (children) face, like the need to fulfill the basic needs of many families and children,” Nguyentran said in an admissions application.
She has applied to four colleges and is currently deciding between Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth University.
While she has to wait to achieve her ultimate goal, Nguyentran spends her time now helping in smaller ways.
About eight weeks ago, a student from Cambodia came into her class. While the new student learns English, Nguyentran helps him by explaining assignments and assisting him with computer work.
“She does this without being asked to do it,” said Sondra Snidow, Nguyentran’s science teacher, in a recommendation letter. “She is naturally a caring and giving individual who wants to help others who need it.”
Outside of class, Nguyentran’s time is split between her extracurricular activities and her community service activities.
She’s the captain of her school’s varsity and competition cheerleading teams, president of the Triangle 1 Club, holds office in various honor societies and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Outside of school, she volunteers with the American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity and the Children’s Museum of Richmond.
“I don’t exactly have a favorite (activity),” Nguyentran said. “I just know what I need to do in order to grow up and classify myself as someone successful.”
Nguyentran manages these activities while keeping up with her course load that includes four Advanced Placement classes and two honors classes.
“I always take school seriously as my primary motivation to get to where I would like to be in the next several years,” she said. “I actually don’t have a favorite class, I just know what I have to do so I take each class with a smile on my face striving for an A no matter how much I like a class or not.”
Through all this, Nguyentran said she uses her family, specifically her grandparents, as motivation.
“My family is actually a major component of me being me,” she said. “I would like to pursue what I knew they wouldn’t be able to do as one naturalized citizen and non-citizen themselves.”
And even though both her grandparents have passed, Nguyentran said she won’t forget the wisdom they passed on to her.
“If my grandparents were alive today I would tell them I have not only ‘done’ my education, but I have and will continue to make it a lifelong commitment on the road to accomplishing my other educational and professional goals,” she wrote in an admissions letter.