Past Scholarship Winners 2011
Our Scholarship Advisor, Shag Clark and Lake Washington Technical College found two outstanding recipients for the scholarship program. Garage Plus, Puyallup,Washington and the Washington State Hot Rod Hall of Fame scholarship sponsors made this part of the awards banquet possible.
2011 Garage Plus, Puyallup WA presented Kaleb Houfburg with a $2000.00 scholarship (waiting for a picture)
2011 Washington State Hot Rod Hall of Fame presented Bao Truong with a $2000.00 scholarship
Bao's story is so interesting, he would like to share it with you. This article was written by Bao.
Name: Bao Truong
How I finally became a college student
I was born in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. My father was a military officer of the South Vietnam Army. After 1975, when the Vietcong invaded and took over the south, my father was imprisoned by the new communist government and died after four years in the labor camp. During my schooling, I was treated unfairly. I could not get into college or find work because of my family’s background.
I knew that I could not live in Vietnam any longer with the communist government. Freedom was limited; when people wanted to do something or go somewhere, they had to ask permission from the local police department. After I completed high school, I escaped from the communist government to look for freedom. One night, I fled the country by boat. The boat was hit by a typhoon. Very high waves washed over the boat, and the people cried for help. There was no one to help, and all we could do was hold on and pray. We survived the typhoon. Finally, after a week at sea, I reached the Philippines.
Upon my arrival, I was sent to a Vietnamese refugee camp. I thought that I had already found my freedom, but that was not true. The life in the refugee camp was not the same as a normal life. We could not go anywhere; we had to stay inside the camp. We could not do anything that we wanted to do. We did not even have enough food and water for everyday life. We absolutely did not have freedom. In the refugee camp, we had to live with hope because if we didn’t, we would not survive. I thought the best way to find strength was to study, so I began studying English. I had to study hard because English was my second language. Later on, I could read newspapers and books. I read whenever I had time because that was the way for my mind to be free while I was in the refugee camp. I attended a skills development program for refugees and received a certificate of completion for auto repair. I did those things, because I hoped that someday I could come to the United States and enroll in college.
My dream came true in January 2006; the United States granted me refugee status. I arrived in the United States on a refugee visa with absolutely no money in my pocket. I literally had to start from zero. In fact, I had to take out a loan from the International Organization for Migrants (IOM) to pay for my airplane ticket to the United States. In two years, I paid off my debt with the IOM, found work at a car dealership as a parking lot attendant, and established a place of residence in this country.
When I was laid off in November 2009, I knew it was my opportunity to get an education. When I was living in the refugee camp, I learned how to fix vehicles. I decided automotive technician would be a good career for me. I am currently enrolled in the Automotive Repair Technician program, which I started in January of 2010 and continue to study.
I have had to learn more English, which makes going to school a challenge because it takes me longer to read and complete my assignments, and I need to study hard. My efforts paid off, and last school year I received scholarships from my school, Lake Washington Technical College NELA center for student Success and most of all Washington State Hot Rod Hall of Fame. These scholarships helped me with my tuition fee so that I am able to graduate in December 2011 with an AAS degree in Automotive Repair.
After spending 17 years of my life in a refugee camp, I felt that I had no hope. Enrolling in college has given me a brighter future. Becoming educated has helped me improve myself and has also strengthened my community. I have become a role model for my family, and my brother’s look up to me. Now I help my ten year old niece with her homework and hopefully, in the future, my children, here in the United States.
I am currently working hard towards my certification at Lake Washington Technical College. In December of 2011, I will have completed my Certificate Program and my Associates Degree. With my certification to work as an Automotive Repair Technician, I anticipate working at a dealership or auto repair shop in the Seattle area. After that, I will be looking for opportunities to gain experience so that I can complete the Automotive Service of Excellence (ASE) certification. This will be a great help to me because it allows me to use my skills in a variety of locations and opens up the possibility of career advancement.