Family's love of education pays off
Last spring, Enid Truong, fulfilled her parents' dream of earning a college degree.
After fleeing the Vietnam War, Truong's parents hoped to continue their education in the United States, but instead, decided to focus on making this dream a reality for their only child after she was born in Duluth, Georgia.
Over the years, they instilled their love of learning and education in Truong, who found out weeks before her freshman year at the University of Georgia that she would be a Coca-Cola First Generation Scholar—an honor awarded to academically outstanding students who have unmet financial needs.
The scholarship, which provides $5,000 per year toward student fees and other living expenses, served as an invaluable resource for Truong as she adjusted to life on campus. When she graduated last spring with a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Georgia's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Truong became the first person in her family to receive a college degree.
"My parents are very proud," said Truong, who will begin her master's degree in the College of Education's learning, design and technology program this fall. "My dad always kept himself educated on his own, and so he and my mom always encouraged me to learn and really enjoy learning. It put me in the educational mindset."
Truong met several close friends through the Coca-Cola scholarship, and even came full circle during her senior year when she was asked by her coordinator to speak at the program's annual banquet at the SkyClub in Stanford Stadium. To maintain her GPA, Truong studied hard and began placing more importance on understanding her coursework rather than focusing on getting straight A's.
"I was more worried about learning the material and understanding as best as I could," she said. "And when I took a test, I was like, 'That's the best I could have done and I'm OK with whatever I get back.' It was a change, but it was a good change because it took me away from that numerical grading scale."
With a strong background in math and engineering, Truong plans to pursue a career in the STEM field. She discovered the College of Education's learning, design and technology program through the help of her current advisor, Janette Hill, which—along with taking an education course focused on developing tools for students learning how to code and program—solidified her interest in instructional design.
"Enid is a bright and very creative student with a lot of drive and self-initiative," said Hill, a professor and graduate coordinator in the department of career and information studies. "Given Enid's keen interest in learning and her natural sense of curiosity, I know we will greatly benefit from her knowledge and experience as well."
Receiving financial aid as an undergraduate student has given Truong the opportunity to pursue an advanced degree, she said. With the help of the HOPE Scholarship, the Federal Pell Grant and the Coca-Cola First-Generation Scholarship, the soon-to-be Double Dawg can focus all of her attention on her studies and planning for her doctoral degree in the College of Education.
"When I started college, I didn't want to go to medical school, and my parents were very supportive of that," said Truong. "They said, 'I understand you're not going to enjoy going to work if you hate the field.' I'm really happy where I am now."