Category Archives: Student & Graduate Profiles

My friend My

–by Julia Cotten

Current Presidential Scholar Julia Cotten interviewed her classmate My Nguyen about her experiences in the Scholars Program. Both students have just completed their first semester in the Scholars Program and are participating in the educational excursion to Japan. Nguyen is a biology major who graduated from Highland Park High School. Cotten, an Amarillo High graduate, is a general studies major who plans to transfer to Texas Tech to pursue a degree in interior design.

Japanese symbol for FriendshipIn the spring of 2016, only one spot remained in the highly-competitive Presidential Scholars program. My Nguyen was the last high school senior interviewed and three qualified students were already vying for the final opening in the program, which accepts 15 new students a year. Even though Nguyen was the last senior to be interviewed, she made an impression. Nguyen possesses many characteristics that qualify her for the program, but I’m sure her fun-loving personality and bright smile sealed the deal.

My Nguen
My Nguyen at the Scholars Heart of a Leader retreat.

When Nguyen applied to the program and was selected for an interview, she was not very familiar with the opportunities and experiences that the Scholars Program offers. Though she did not know much about the program before the interview, she told me she became hooked after hearing about the stories and trips from previous years. When she received the offer of admission, Nguyen responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes.”

Many of the present Scholars entered this new chapter of their lives with both excitement and nerves. Nguyen was no exception. When asked what she was most looking forward to this year, she immediately responded that she was most excited for the trip to Japan that the Scholars are taking. “Who knew I would actually get to go overseas in my first year of college?” Nguyen said. But Nguyen’s excitement was accompanied by a certain amount of trepidation. She admitted that when first starting the program, “I was fearful of people judging me.”

Fortunately, Nguyen’s fears were put to rest. After only attending Amarillo College for one month, she said her Presidential Scholar classmates became like family. She said she was surprised that her classmates and instructors cared so much for each other and drew her out of her comfort zone. Nguyen told me that she is a totally different person than she was in high school. She has grown in her confidence and is filling her life with positivity.

My Nguyen is just one of the many students who have been changed by this program. It is such a pleasure to share this year and our trip to Japan with Nguyen, whose mindset has become, “Now I can achieve whatever I want to do.”

Advertisements

Scholars program provides influential freshman year

Tiff
Tiffany in the Old Town of Warsaw, Poland on the Scholars trip.

It seems strange to be reflecting on my experience at Amarillo College and saying farewell, because I’ve really only started my experience at AC…


Throughout high school, I was always pushed to get ahead as much as I could and earn
as many credits as possible before I got to college. I ended up earning enough credits to enter college as a sophomore for my degree plan. My name is Tiffany, and I will be graduating with my Associates in General Studies not long after turning 19 years old.As awesome as it sounds, it also means I had to give up an entire year of studying at AC, because I would be graduating a year earlier than most students, who spend about two years at AC. It’s certainly not that I’m against graduating (especially early), I will just miss the Amarillo College experience…especially my AC Presidential Scholars experience. But before I pour my heart and soul out about how amazing AC is, I should probably mention that I didn’t always like the idea of attending Amarillo College. In fact, I dreaded the thought!

I had always thought of AC as an easy, mediocre community college for those who “weren’t smart enough” or couldn’t afford a university. All of my friends were moving away to Austin or Lubbock, and I wanted to go too. I wanted to live in a dorm and take sophisticated classes. Looking back, I sure was naive. Sure I was sort of pushed into going to AC, but I think it’s because that’s what I really needed. I have no regrets. Amarillo College wasn’t a joke at all. I was met with challenging courses and engaging peers. I adapted to college life rather quickly and AC grew on me. I think it really helped to be a part of Presidential Scholars.

Oh, where do I even begin with the Scholars… they’re my friends, no, my family. We have collaborated on projects, solved problems, helped the community and traveled overseas together. The fact that I got to go to Lithuania and Poland with them is beyond phenomenal! I’ve laughed with them and I’ve cried with them. We hold each other up if we feel like we’re falling. I’ve met some wonderful, beautiful people through this program. I’ve made lifetime friends and I’ve learned to love people I would have never met had I gone to a university first. It’s only been a year yet it almost feels like a lifetime.

I think one of the greatest things the Presidential Scholars program has done for me is helped me to feel comfortable in my own skin and really come out of my shell. I could be myself, because we were all human and we could all relate to the struggles of adolescence and college stress. I have no problem speaking my mind and pitching ideas now. I enjoy talking to large groups of people about things that I’m excited and passionate about. I look forward to trying new things and stepping out of my comfort zone. I will carry these things with me for the rest of my journey through life, as I’m sure all of us will. I couldn’t have asked for a better school or a better group of people to share my first year college experience with.

As much as it pains me to leave it all behind after only one year, I am excited to see where the road will take me next. It feels good to be able to graduate with a lot of my second year friends and I look forward to watching everyone’s story unfold. I’m definitely going to miss the comfort of AC, but I know it’s time to step out of that comfort zone once again and live life from a new perspective. I just hope there are plenty of squirrels at WT!

If college is an ocean…

kimberby Kimber Willburn, pre-nursing major.

When you’re in high school, the teachers try to convince you that when you go to college no one will care about you and that you will get lost in the big ocean they call college. I was worried about going to college and I thought it would be the most challenging experience… and that I would get eaten by the sharks you call professors instead of teachers.
I am lucky to be a part of Presidential Scholars and Honors because, instead of being lost in the ocean, I have a life boat of friends that are in the same situation as I am. I thought that being in honors courses would be just like being in AP classes in high school but the two are not alike. Being in honors courses is like being with the same type of fish–everyone wants to do well. Being in an honors course we get to choose the things we learn and everyone wants to learn. Honors professors know that the students in the class are good students and they want us to succeed. I am so glad I made the choice to be in honors courses and Presidential Scholars.
Being a part of Presidential Scholars has made going from high school to college less stressful and a much easier experience. In Scholars I always have a place to go and ask questions and get support from friends and professors who understand what I am going through and want to help me. I have made life long friends who I know I can count on because we all want to see each other succeed. Through my experiences so far I’ve learned how to go out of my comfort zone and ask for help when I need it and if I don’t find the answer the first time to keep searching. People want to help you but you have to take the initiative.
So the misconceptions about college are wrong. People do care about you and it’s not designed to make you fail. The issue is not whether the college staff cares about you, it’s  whether you care about college. College is an ocean with lots of fish but there may be a reason groups of fish are called ‘schools’.  If you find a group to stick together with then you won’t get lost. Instead you will swim on to new adventures as a proud member of your school.