I am Tri Hoang, currently a PhD student in economics at the University of Southern California. I come from Hue, Vietnam.
Coming from a humble background, I often felt unsure of my dream to pursue a better education and opportunities abroad. Given that my parents’ income was just enough for our family of four to make ends meet, the only option to realize my dream was through working hard so I could obtain a scholarship. That life-changing opportunity came almost a decade ago when I was able to attend the British International School in Phuket, Thailand on a full merit-based scholarship, which in turn led me to the opportunity to attend New York University as a fully funded student. In college, I maintained academic excellence while working 20 hours a week on campus as a student worker. Upon graduation, I started my PhD career as a Provost’s Fellow at USC.
I am a firm believer that America is the land of opportunity. It is a big motivation for me – as someone who first arrived in New York with just $77 in my pocket set aside for me by my mother – to work hard, to overcome challenges and homesickness, to live cheaply so that I could send remittance home to support my family, and to believe that I will succeed one day.
I’m honored and grateful to be one of the Mai Anh Do & David Nguyen scholars this year. I look forward to making the most of this opportunity to further my professional and personal growth.
My name is Frances Obiezu. I have a first degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and a diploma in Counseling and Psychotherapy. I am currently a full-time MBA student at William & Mary. Before my MBA, I had a flourishing career as a Project Manager and a Business Process Re-engineering professional. I also have a fashion business line, which I started in College to sponsor my undergraduate studies but continued this business post-graduation.
I wear several life hats as a mom, a wife, an engineer, a talk therapist, a business professional, and now a student. My attributes of grit and resilience have enabled me to juggle the roles with a bit of friction but essentially seamlessly. Some difficult life experiences propelled me to start an online talk therapy. Along with a team of other professionals, I provide free talk therapy to distressed people within our community. In my home country, Nigeria, there are not many platforms to meet the mental health demand of the approximately 180 million population; as such, my passion is to add value to this space. I have risen above challenges each time with a positive attitude, zest for life/life activities, and hope for a brighter future.
I am truly honored to be one of the three Mai Anh Do & David Nguyen Foundation scholarship recipients this year. Thank you so much to this foundation, and congratulations to all the other applicants who participated in this process.
Aylar Atadurdyyeva is a third-year student at the University of Kansas, majoring in Global and International Studies, Microbiology, and Political Science with minors in German Studies, Psychology, and Russian and East European Studies. She is an active member of the University Honors program, where she served as a Student Ambassador. An advocate for interdisciplinary education, Aylar’s academic interests span several academic fields. This past summer, Aylar was a clinical research assistant at the University of Kansas Medical School and studied the recurrence of prostate cancer. She is currently interning with Education USA, a U.S. Department of State program. Aylar is also involved with Student Union Activities, The Big Event, and Slavic Club. After graduation, Aylar intends to pursue a Ph.D. in either Microbiology or Political Science with hopes of becoming a scholar-practitioner. Aylar is originally from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
I am a South African student who recently graduated from Westminster College in Fulton, MO in the premed path with a B.A in biochemistry (biology emphasis) and a minor in public health. The reality of living in rural South Africa is that if there had been enough public health services and facilities, some of my family members and millions of South Africans who died from HIV might have been saved which is why I want to become a doctor. I won’t lie and say that growing up without my main source of stability and support was not hard because it is by far the hardest thing that I have ever dealt with and still struggle with on a daily basis. With a deadbeat father, a deceased mother, and an aging grandmother selling cosmetics on the corner of the streets just to keep food at the table for her two grandchildren, the odds have always been against me. However, if there is one thing I inherited from my mother, is the strength of a lioness and the perseverance to work hard.
My name is Behnaz Lahooti. I am a passionate scientist with M.S. in chemical engineering from Iran, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. As a woman researcher, I have experienced outrageous gender inequalities and discriminations in Iran. Consequently, I came to the U.S. with an American dream to become a notable pharmaceutical sciences researcher and develop innovative therapies. I was ready to embrace certain challenges, including not being allowed back to Iran to meet my family during my entire Ph.D. training.
Unfortunately, I have encountered more life challenges than I had anticipated, including switching lab twice due to unforeseen circumstances. Still, as a person with an unsinkable soul, my determination to finish the Ph.D. program and achieve my American dream became stronger throughout these hardships. Thankfully, I managed to build a strong research portfolio to be eligible to apply for National Interest Waiver, the initial steppingstone for the immigration process in the U.S.
I am truly honored to be one of the first scholarship recipients of the Mai Anh Do & David Nguyen Foundation. Word is insufficient to express my sincere gratitude toward this foundation to provide specialized scholarships for international students like me. With the foundation’s help, I am one step closer to achieving my dream and reuniting with my family. I also look forward to the mentorship by inspiring team members who will guide me on my professional development trajectory.