New GCCC class includes first-generation college students




Several students who set foot on the Garden City Community College campus for the first time in their lives as college students today are also the first in their families to do so.

"In our family, particularly, education is the most important thing — you get a better life and that's why we're here," 18-year-old Binh Hua said.

Hua's father, Nghiem Hua, and mother, Lan Nhan, both of whom work for Tyson Fresh Meats, immigrated from Vietnam about eight years ago and Hua said the main reason was so that she could get an education and have better opportunities.

"Like when I was a kid, in Vietnam, we tried to learn English, but no matter how much you pay to go to a good English school, it isn't as good as being around it everyday, speaking it everyday and listening to it all the time, so I picked up on it really fast after we got here," she said.

Hua began school in America in the fifth grade and is now fluent in English. She is taking 15 credit hours this semester and after getting her associate's degree at GCCC, she hopes to major in computer science.

"I'm a computer freak," she said, laughing.

Hua's friend, 18-year-old My Nguyen, also immigrated to the U.S. with her family.

"My family came here in 1999, from Vietnam, when I was around four," Nguyen said.

Her father, Hung Nguyen, and her mother, Nu Lu, also work at Tyson.

"I'm the last generation of them, for now, so I have to continue education and my mom always convinced me to do better in school," Nguyen said.

She is taking 14 hours of general studies courses, such as English and Algebra at GCCC and plans to major in pre-med, so that she can either becomes a surgeon or a family physician.

Nguyen said her parents are very proud of her.

"Especially because I'm an only child and they focus on me a lot," she said.

18-year-old Carla Velasquez immigrated from El Salvador with her mother, Santos Velasquez, about eight years ago, after her father, Mercedes Velasquez had already been in the U.S. for some time.

Velasquez is the youngest of three kids, but she is the first in her family to do a lot of things.

"I'm the first to go to college the first to have a diploma from high school and hopefully the first to graduate from college. And my parents don't know how to write, they don't know how to read, they barely know how to write their names, so that's why they're pushing me so hard, because they want me to be the first child from the family to do something like this," she said.

Velasquez, who is attending GCCC on a soccer scholarship that covers her tuition, is currently taking 17 credit hours and plans to major in psychology.

19-year-old Zach Montoya's parents were born in the U.S., but his mother's parents migrated from Mexico. Montoya, who was raised by his father, Doug Davis, is also the first in his family to attend college.

"My grandparents really like the idea of me going to college because they never had the opportunity," Montoya said. "And my dad highly recommends it because he does hard labor right now and he doesn't want that life for me. He wants me to have a good paying job, doing something I enjoy."

After he attends GCCC for two years, Montoya plans to attend Fort Hays State University and then he hopes to open his own chiropractic practice.

He said his first day of classes went well, but that his curriculum at GCCC looks a little challenging. He is looking for a part-time job, but whether he finds ones or not, Montoya said, "I can still find the drive to my apply myself."

18-year-old Jesse Sanjuan's parents, both of whom work at Seaboard Farms in Leoti, immigrated to the U.S. before he was born. He said they are very proud of their son for being the first in their family to attend college and that he is attending, in part, as a tribute to them.

"I always wanted to make my parents proud, so I not only did it for myself, but also so they could see how far they've made it and how far along they've come," he said.

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