EVERETT — Amy Nguyen, 18, values multiple perspectives, thanks to her immigrant parents and her involvement in Everett High School’s International Student Organization.
Question: You recently served as emcee at your school’s Culture Night. What was that?
Answer: I’m in the International Students Organization and it was my freshman year that we did it the first time. We just try to showcase the cultural diversity at our school. We have students from all over the world. … This year we had a mariachi band and a Chinese face-changing mask. People really liked the Samoan dance. It’s fun. It’s just really amazing to see so many different cultures come all together and interact with each other and people finding out new things. It’s such a beautiful thing.
Q: What else does the club do?
A: A lot of clubs have these set goals. For Honor Society it’s about service. For band, it’s music. For us, as long as it has to do with cultural diversity and unity — like we do fundraising for other countries when there’s a natural disaster. This year it was Puerto Rico. … I love those events. You really feel you’re giving back to the global community. And I really feel, too, like it is a part of our community because we interact with people from all over the world. It feels like part of ourselves, too.
Q: What have you learned about some of your classmates?
A: Sometimes we just have these heart-to-heart days. Sometimes things get really emotional and we really start to understand our club members better. We have students in our club who were refugees. A lot of times we end up in tears. … You find out things where it’s like, I can’t believe they went through that, but they’re still here and they’re still strong.
… Being in the club, I found people who understood what I was going through (as a child of Vietnamese immigrants). It started out wanting to know about other cultures, but then very quickly became family.
Q: What else are you involved in?
A: I’m also involved in Torch Honor Society. One of our biggest events is the Torch Dance. It’s basically the prom for the special needs students. We have food and a dance. It takes weeks of planning. This year it was a “Tropical Paradise.”
I was involved in the medical student club for a short while because that’s what I want to do for a career.
Q: What prompts that goal?
A: The reason I want to become a doctor is to one day travel abroad into developing countries to spend time there and help people who need the resources and the aid but they can’t get it. So many people don’t have many things that we take for granted.
Q: So what are your college plans?
A: I think it would probably be the University of Washington. But Wazzu is giving me a full ride. I got the Distinguished Regents. I was like whoa, I didn’t think I’d get it. I was really surprised. So that’s hard to turn away from. And then there’s Seattle University, and they offered me $22,000 per year for each of the four years. With UW, I got accepted to Bothell and the Seattle campus. I’m waiting to hear on the financial aid package. People have their first choice, second choice, third choice colleges. And me — they’re all up there.
Q: Do you work?
A: I have a 2-year-old brother. He’s kind of like my job. My parents wanted me to focus on school and school only.
Q: You mentioned they want to support you in college, too, so you can focus on studies.
A: I would really appreciate it but it also makes me feel bad. They own a very small business and that’s their only source of income. They have three of us. They have to come up with money for all us kids and bills. They only take four or five days off a year; they work every other day. I don’t want them to feel like they have to sacrifice even more.
Q: Who has inspired you in high school?
A: There would be a lot. Miss Smith-Aikins, she is the advisor for our club. We can talk about close cultural issues. … And the club itself is really inspiring. I feel I’m fortunate to have everything I have; they made me realize that. Being so fortunate, I feel the best way I can make use of this is to give back. And probably my parents themselves. … Knowing they are such hard-working people and doing that for me, I know I can’t give up. I work hard for myself, but I need to continue pushing myself for them as well.
Q: What advice do you have for other students?
A: I hope that people can realize people have different struggles. You should always respect that person. You don’t know what they’re going through. We’re all different and we all just need to respect each other.
Q: What is it like at this stage?
A: I feel like a lot of opportunities are coming up. … I feel like I’m getting closer to where I want to be. I’m almost there. Things are coming together.
Q: Seattle University made a poster that draws a quote from your admissions essay. What’s the quote?
A: “My goal is to give back to anyone around the world, whether that person be across the street or across the globe.” That’s me, in a single sentence.
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org, 425-339-3432