Our Work for Students, Student Stories, Supporting Champions For Learning

Champions’ Graduate Inspires Newest Students

Tien Nguyen, a graduate of Champions For Learning’s Take Stock in Children program, has proven that with hard work and perseverance, students can achieve their dreams. He currently works in commercial real estate after graduating from the University of Florida (UF) with a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in fish farming completely debt-free. As a young child, Tien immigrated to the United States with his family and experienced not only a culture shock, but also a language barrier since he arrived without any background in English. Tien made it a priority to learn English, despite the difficulties, and make connections with his classmates.

Because he was the first in his family who planned to further his education, he knew he would benefit from the guidance of a mentor and instruction provided through program workshops focused on financial literacy, networking, and completing college applications. Champions For Learning helped Tien apply for and receive a Leaders 4 Life Fellowship, a highly competitive award that provides funding to motived Take Stock in Children seniors with strong leadership skills, moral character, and academic success to excel in a university environment.

“Those lunches with my mentor during high school were so crucial in molding my identity, mannerisms, and aspirations,” Tien reflected, “and attending weekly college and career labs was such a positive influence on my success.”

As an undergraduate at UF, Tien studied abroad in Fiji to learn about sustainability and ecotourism and Ecuador and Peru with the MEDLIFE movement. During his senior year, he secured a lab position with a UF graduate professor to help run a snapper and grouper fishing project. Tien was so profoundly impacted by the relationships he developed with his mentors while he was enrolled in Champions For Learning’s program, that during his time at the University of Florida, he became a mentor himself to a Gainesville high school student. As his mentee walked across the stage to receive his diploma, Tien realized that he had become a part of something bigger than himself.

“I had somehow positively impacted another young man’s life who was raised by a single mother and had so many negative influences and adversities that could have turned him down the wrong path. That’s the power of mentorship,” Tien said.

That power of mentorship and the opportunities he was able to pursue because of Champions For Learning inspired Tien to give back to his community and volunteer his time. As a changemaker, he serves on our Take Stock in Children selection committee, reviewing applications and meeting with current eighth grade students who are eager to reach their educational goals like he was when he was their age. Tien recently spoke to Champions For Learning’s incoming Take Stock in Children eighth grade class at our Induction ceremony, reminding them: “We all have choices in life. How you decide to take every little action from here on out affects the whole trajectory of your life.”

Your investment in students like Tien truly makes a difference in the trajectory of their lives by providing them with the resources and guidance to overcome the obstacles they face while working towards their dreams. To invest in Collier County education and make an online gift, please click the button below.