I was the first member of my family to graduate high school and now I’m headed to Brown

She was also her class valedictorian

Lisa Nguyen represents a lot of firsts. She was the first high school graduate in her family and the first to go to college. And she was the top of her class and is the only bilingual member of her family as her parents don’t speak English. As she heads to Brown this fall, we spoke to her about her incredible achievements.

Tell me about your academic journey. 

I am a first generation high school graduate, and my parents never even got to high school. My parents only made it to grade school until they had to work. Education has been a big push for my brother and me.

How did you know you wanted to go to Brown?

I applied to a bunch of schools. No one knew what to do about applying to college and that journey because  no one in my family had ever gone through it before. I was lucky enough to be a Questbridge finalist  so I was able to apply to most colleges for free.

How did you balance take high school and college credits?

I sacrificed sleep. I also love volunteering, so I had to juggle time school work with my volunteering. I took a full academic high school course load on top of dual enrollment in college credits.

What did you do for volunteering?

I am an intern for the Democratic Party where I help register people to vote. I also am very involved in sidewalk paintings where I have installed three permanent murals downtown.

What is your concentration?

I want to double concentrate in Science and Society and Philosophy.

What is your dream job?

To be an anesthesiologist and then get my PhD and become a scientific researcher.

A list of Lisa’s achievements

What was it like being the only bilingual person in your family? 

Stressful. Since I was five years old, I was used to translate at every single function. I started translating at doctor’s appointments, pharmacies, grocery stores, and gas stations. I was even needed to translate for things such as rewards program at grocery stores, sending mail, and paying bills.

What was your biggest struggle through high school?

I went to a vocational high school that is not a typical school that feeds into the Ivy League. It was hard to recognize that I perform at a higher level and pushing myself to reach my fullest potential. I didn’t have a guide throughout school, so the hardest party was navigating the educational system on my own. I have learned so much from the process and can’t wait to teach it with people in my high school.

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