Taking Initiative

When I decided to pursue a doctorate’s degree, I thought it was too late. At that time, I had about two more years left of school. What did I, Kimhong Nguyen, have to show on my graduate application? Yes, I volunteered here and there, but was that enough? No. Was I prepared for graduate work? No. Did I even know how the application process worked? No. I was completely lost.

I remembered walking around on campus thinking about what I needed to do to get a step closer to my dream. The answers were not just going to magically come to me, I told myself I needed to be proactive. I MUST be proactive. I decided to check our school’s website to look at what resources they provide. It was there that I found out about the McNair Scholars Program. The goal of the program “is to introduce students from eligible groups to graduate school, opportunities for academic research experiences, and the intellectual rewards of graduate study during their undergraduate training”. After reading the pamphlet and materials online, it was very clear to me that I needed to get accepted into the McNair Scholars Program. When I looked at the application for the McNair Scholars Program, I must admit I was a little afraid. As a transfer student, how was I going to get two recommendation letters here on campus? I wasn’t just going to sit there and sulk. Instead, I spoke to two staff members at the Excel Program, Valerie Taniguchi and Diana Balgas. Both were very helpful and even took extra steps to help me meet with the coordinator of the McNair Scholar’s Program, Takiyah Franklin. The outcome of these meetings helped my obtain not just two but three recommendation letters from professors that I look up to. Through this experience I learned that I did not need to try to figure out everything myself. There are people out there who are willing to help.

As soon as I was accepted into the McNair Scholar’s Program, I knew I had created a contract of commitment. This was not just a commitment to myself, but also to my community, my fellow cohort, and my mentors. There is a high level of expectations, but I aim to meet them. Taking initiative and being proactive is a critical strategy in making things happen. I learned that no one will come and hand you a silver platter of achieved goals. You must take actions yourself, and more importantly you must believe in yourself. Regardless of the obstacles that stand in your way, it is never too late to pursue your dreams.


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