Coca-Cola? More like Coca-Moola! Foster High senior Amy Nguyen just found out that she beat out more than 86,000 national applicants to become a 2017 Coke Scholar, which comes with $20,000 and an all-expenses paid trip to the Leadership Development Institute in Atlanta in April. Coke Scholars excel academically and are passionately service-oriented—which is pretty much the definition of Amy!
This Honor Society and Running Start student already has her associate’s degree and will graduate in June as a Certified Nursing Assistant—the result of often doubling- or even tripling-up on math and science courses. She expects to focus on Neurobiology and Medical Anthropology and Global Health in her continuing studies; ultimately, she wants to be a practicing surgeon and researcher. She has been inspired by her own culture—as a female and an Asian, she wants to show that minorities can excel in medicine and science. She also hopes to research why certain diseases impact racial groups differently.
“Most of the obstacles in front of me and my dreams have stemmed from self-doubt,” she said of beginning her educational journey into a field dominated by white males. “But I have learned that I’m not in a competition with anyone else. I am competing with myself to be my best.”
Because Amy splits her time between Bellevue College and Foster High, she’s had to often “find [her] own way to be a leader” outside of the typical school projects—to the tune of 3,000 volunteer hours over the past five years! For instance, she helped coordinate a coding event for teens at T-Mobile headquarters in February. She created the Clean Learning Initiative after tutoring at a Seattle elementary school over the summer; she discovered that the condition of the building was so downtrodden that she began recruiting friends and family to clean and revitalize the campus on weekends. Every Friday, she volunteers a full shift at Highline Medical Center in the telemetry unit. She’s also planning a medical mission trip to Peru over the coming spring break.
Amy attributes this passion to serve others to her own community. She is a proud product of Thorndyke Elementary and Showalter Middle School before Foster, and she said these “schools have transformed me into the person I am today.” Even in Bellevue, a much more affluent and less diverse place than what she’s used to, she’s had the courage to believe in herself and to “be an advocate for others,” such as a gay friend who was being bullied.
“I know where I come from, and that’s what we do,” she said. “We respect all people.”
Amy is also a semi-finalist in the national Elk’s Most Valuable Student Scholarship (only three girls and three boys from each state move on to this level) and is guaranteed at least $4,000 and up to $50,000 if she is a finalist (to be named in April). She has been selected as one of five students in Washington to receive the $8,000 from Women’s University Club of Seattle. She’s already been accepted with full-ride tuition offers at Washington State University, Western Washington University, Central Washington University, and Seattle University (a $72,000 offer!). However, she’s waiting on the University of Washington, her top choice.