Best Scholar - 2009
It's a familiar OC story: Once upon a time, a Vietnamese family decided to leave their home behind and try for a new life in America. Mike Nguyen was only a small child when his family left Vietnam. They settled in Santa Ana; his dad worked as a line cook and his mother as a seamstress. As Nguyen grew up, he dreamed of going to an Ivy League school, yet with his parent's modest income, being able to pay the tuition and costs was unlikely. Yet luck came Nguyen's junior year at Century High School, with a $30,000 scholarship from the Simon Family Foundation the first year it was given. With that money, Nguyen was able to obtain his dream: He was going to Harvard. He is now 22 years old and just graduated from the university this past June. He received a degree in political science with a minor in East Asian studies. In his spare time, Nguyen returns to his roots by tutoring preteen refugees from foreign countries via Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment and the Refugee Youth Term Enrichment programs. He has also taught English abroad in China with Harvard's Crimson Summer Exchange Program. Nguyen's dream is to become a U.S. Ambassador to an East Asian country. We don't doubt he'll make that happen, too.