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Amanda McCullough :

  • Amanda McCullough
  • amccullo@atlantic.edu
  • Atlantic Cape Community College
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  • Mays Landing, New Jersey, 08330
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2018 GRAD SPOTLIGHT: High Honor Speaker Heads to Rutgers to Pursue Dream of Becoming a Doctor

May 15, 2018

girl smiling

My Nguyen, 23, of Atlantic City has been chosen as the 2018 High Honor Speaker for Atlantic Cape Community College’s graduating class this year. Her story is one that inspires hope, drive and admiration.

Before moving to the United States two years ago, Nguyen had already completed four years at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Vietnam. She opted to start her journey at Atlantic Cape from the beginning but maintained her passion and desire to become a medical doctor.

This journey was not one without struggles. “My biggest challenge was communicating in English­­– my second language. Although I had obtained the above-average results of TOEFL iBT (96/120) and SAT (1400/1600) before coming to the United States, I still have difficulty with listening to native people,” Nguyen said. She also spoke about the homesickness she endured being 8,500 miles from her home country, as well as the financial challenges she faced while trying to stay focused on her studies.

She did not let these struggles stop her from her goals, though. “My problems were quickly solved thanks to the touching and unexpected help of the professors and friends at Atlantic Cape. Through ample lively discussions, amazing lectures and constant support from my Composition classes’ professors, I found myself remarkably improved not only in the language itself but also changed the way that I perceived the world.” She was also able to receive a full scholarship and financial aid during her time at Atlantic Cape, which eased her concerns about finances while attending school.

After receiving her associate degree in biomedical science, she is transferring to Rutgers University to pursue her bachelor’s degree in cell biology and neurosciences. The excitement resonated as she talked about being able to have opportunities to work in research labs, land an internship in her favorite field, shadow a doctor, volunteer in the hospital and take the MCAT exam, all that will get her well-prepared to apply to medical school during the next two years.  

When asked how she has changed since attending Atlantic Cape, she replied, “Every day when I walked into Atlantic Cape, the world just grew a little bit bigger in my eyes.”

Nguyen was also involved in many activities during her time at college. “I remember the most meaningful activity that I was involved during my time here was about raising sexual assault awareness by donating and decorating jeans. Since painting has been my all-time favorite, it was amazing to know that the picture of my decorated jeans would go around the world to help raise awareness of sexual abuse. I also completed some projects from Art Appreciation class and had them displayed at the Student’s Art Exhibition Show. Besides being an active member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, I have been a co-founding member of Thang Long Foundation – a Children in Need Charitable Fund which helps Vietnamese children overcome catastrophe in life,” she said.

In five years, she hopes to be continuing her education at one of the Ivy League medical universities. It is no surprise one of her biggest dreams is to one day create a free clinic for sick children who are confronted with financial challenges.

 “This graduation from Atlantic Cape will mark one of the most important and memorable days in my life. Atlantic Cape has turned me from a shy girl to an active, passionate student who represents the graduating class of 2018 and will deliver the farewell speech,” Nguyen concluded.

List of 2018 Graduating Class