Amanda Ngoc Nguyen says she learned as a child to set educational goals for herself.
Her parents had fled Vietnam, and as their first-born, her future became the family’s goal. Her success — their success — hinged on advancing her education, they said.
The family’s struggles to make ends meet often meant shifting from apartment to apartment and school to school. It also meant going to work at an early age. Because education offered stability, a college degree and a future career as a certified public accountant became the target.
All that hard work was rewarded this month, says the Westchester resident, a Cal State Fullerton junior studying business administration, with a concentration in accounting. She was one of 23 students, one from each campus of the California State University, selected to receive the 2018 Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement.
The honor is the university’s highest recognition of student achievement. It is given each year to students selected from applicants who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments and financial need.
Nguyen applied for a scholarship early in the spring semester and then learned in May that her name was among the selected few nominees that CSUF President Fram Virjee recommended to the CSU Trustees.
“I was very honored that he felt I deserved this and that he would let me represent CSUF as a scholar,” she says. “I feel my education will make my parents proud and show that no matter where you can come from, with an education you can achieve anything.”
Nguyen ran a food drive for Santa Ana families from 2013 to 2016 and volunteers as an accounting tutor to her classmates in the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics. She’s also a CSUF board member for Beta Alpha Psi, an honorary organization for financial information students and professionals, which helps students gain technical and professional skills to complement their education.
More than 340 students have been honored with Trustees’ Awards since the scholarship program began in 1984. In 1999, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation partnered with the CSU Board of Trustees to supplement the endowment with contributions from CSU Trustees, CSU Foundation Board of Governors, and private donors. Each scholarship bears the name of a donor.
Nguyen received the $6,000 scholarship named for its donors, Michael A. and Debe Lucki. She plans to set aside a portion to assist her family with rent expenses and save the rest to pay for study materials and fees to take the certified public accountant exam.
Nguyen and the other awardees were recognized during the CSU Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach, on Sept. 11. She met Michael Lucki and most of the award winners.
“It was very humbling and comforting that all of us had come from difficult pasts and that we’re all thriving,” she said. “I’m so glad all the students I met got the recognition they deserved for their hard work.”