Tag Archives: Global Education

Program opens door to the possible

By TAYLOR GRAY, biology major:

Taylor poses
Taylor Gray with the Japan excursion tour guide Yumi.

Over the past year, the Presidential Scholars program at Amarillo College has been quite the learning experience. Personally, I can recall the very first day of this prestigious program. On top of being extremely nervous for what to expect for my first semester of college, I was even more anxious to see what type of program I really signed up for. Little did I know, the projects I would undertake, the people I would meet, the places I would go, and the friendships I would create would go on to be some of the most memorable moments of my college life.

The first semester started off quickly. Within two weeks of knowing my fellow students and professors, an intense but helpful leadership retreat took place. This retreat was a very powerful interaction that taught us how to lead as well as how to work as a team. Immediately after this experience, the real activities began. Group lunches, out of class events, and even a trip to Dallas improved our teamwork skills. All of these experiences brought us closer together, but nothing would top the life changing experience of getting to travel thousands of miles to the country of Japan.

When I found out I had the possibility of traveling to Japan, I was beyond ecstatic. Japan has always been one of the countries I had always wanted to travel to. During this gigantic excursion, I experienced new cultures, religions, lifestyles, and food. Something that I took away from this trip was how fortunate I was to get to experience this firsthand. I understood that not all students my age had the luxury of traveling to such a breathtaking country like this. When I was a child, I used to imagine Japan as a faraway land that I would never have the pleasure of exploring. I thought reaching it was impossible.  The overall experience of traveling to a country like this broke my thoughts of the impossible and opened a new door to the possible. This trip was truly a trip of a lifetime, and I am extremely grateful for that opportunity.

The second semester came and went by even quicker. We came back to start the spring semester without a second to waste. More group projects and lunches with community mentors piled up as we returned to our project groups. The biggest challenge this semester by far was our giant research project. This project called for the Scholars to pick a topic related to their majors and write a 10 page research paper about it. This research would then be presented at the annual West Texas A&M research conference in front of judges who would give their us their critiques and feedback.  This task was very challenging, but in the end I felt as if my research and presentation skills were polished again once more.

The Presidential Scholars program has done so much good for me as well as my peers. The opportunities that stem from this program are truly amazing. I have learned so much and am eager to share my experiences with the open world. I would encourage this program to anyone who is fortunate enough to get the chance.

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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.”