Pleasant Grove High School
Stephanie Nguyen’s motivation and desire to succeed stem from her close relationship with her family. She is especially inspired by her parents, Hung Nguyen and Le Nguyen. Her father, Hung, lived through the Vietnam War and immigrated to the U.S. “He has experienced many difficulties all at once and has learned some things the hard way. He’s taught me to be humble,” Stephanie says. “The struggles he has faced have made me realize how much he has sacrificed to give me the life he couldn’t have.”
Stephanie’s mother, Le, has been another motivation to succeed in school. “She goes to work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. She doesn’t speak English well, but she works hard to learn as fast as possible to help my dad and me. I admire her determination to stay strong when facing difficult challenges despite her language barrier,” Stephanie says. “She’s also motivated me to improve my Vietnamese and be confident in it.”
Stephanie’s two brothers, Johnathan and Steven, also inspire her to realize her potential in school and life. “They have encouraged me to keep pushing for the best while also taking care of myself,” Stephanie says. “I probably wouldn’t have survived high school without them.”
After graduation this year, Stephanie plans to attend a four-year university and major in biology on a pre-medicine track with a possible minor in history. She is still waiting on a few college decisions to determine which school she will attend, but no matter where she starts, Stephanie hopes to find a career she loves that will allow her to travel more.
Stephanie’s future dreams were built on the foundation of opportunities provided to her through Pleasant Grove Independent School District. “I was able to take rigorous classes to prepare me for college and apply to highly ranked colleges like the Ivy Leagues,” Stephanie says. “Pleasant Grove High School (PGHS) also gives students a wide range of different clubs and activities to join, which provides the opportunity to strengthen their resume. The teachers and administrators are also very flexible with participating in opportunities like internships and involvement during school.”
During her freshman year, Stephanie took art because she loves drawing as a hobby, and she wanted to continue developing and improving her art skills. “The projects in this class were very memorable and interesting to do, and this class has definitely helped me learn how to manage my time,” Stephanie said.
Looking to lighten the workload, Stephanie decided to replace art with graphic design to continue her creative and artistic side. Since making this decision, Stephanie has earned two internships and certifications in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. “I’m currently obtaining my Microsoft Certifications,” Stephanie says. “This graphic design class has allowed me to branch out into other subjects such as my internship with Pleasant Grove’s Director of Marketing and Communications and my role in the PGHS newspaper class.”
Although she joined the newspaper class in her senior year, Stephanie says that the journalism community at Pleasant Grove has been very welcoming and understanding. “I never felt left out because I was new, and Mrs. Harris has been a big motivation to learn quickly and finish my pages on time,” Stephanie says. “I also took the newspaper class to continue doing graphic design and learn how to write more concisely.”
Jennifer Gibson, Stephanie’s Graphic Design 2 and Practicum in Graphic Design Honors teacher, has been her favorite teacher throughout high school. Stephanie remembers the scheduling conflict she had between two major classes, Graphic Design 2 and AP European History, and Mrs. Gibson allowed her to take Graphic Design 2 despite the conflict. “Having her early has helped me really learn graphic design way quicker rather than going through a PowerPoint and taking a quiz every week,” Stephanie says. “She really forced me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to learn quickly and effectively.”
Mrs. Gibson has also helped Stephanie connect with school staff and allowed her to apply her graphic design skills to the real world, like Stephanie’s Pleasant Grove’s Central Services internship. Mrs. Gibson’s presence in Stephanie’s life has given her the confidence to pursue her goals. “Going to Mrs. Gibson’s office is like going to my second home. She’s always ready to listen to what I have to say,” Stephanie says. “We both have very similar interests and work ethics, which allowed us to bond very quickly.”
Stephanie also joined several clubs in high school. She is involved with the National Technical Honors Society, National Honors Society, and National Art Honors Society. “I found these honors societies to be a great way to get volunteer experience in school and obtain leadership roles,” Stephanie says.
In addition, Stephanie has interests in hobbies separate from school. She has taught herself several skills because of her parents’ cultural barrier with extracurriculars. So far, Stephanie has taught herself how to knit, sew, embroider, and crochet. She also loves playing video games, and when she was younger, she played in a video game tournament for the Wii U game Splatoon. “We didn’t win the first round, but the preparation to play in a tournament and learning the types of communication when playing the game has taught me a lot about teamwork and cooperation,” Stephanie says. “It has helped me learn to work with others more easily.”
Even though she has many achievements and successes, Stephanie says that she regrets learning many things in high school the hard way and pushing off opportunities because she was so reserved and introverted. “I underestimated my capabilities and felt lonely a lot throughout high school. I’ve learned that there’s no harm in jumping in and doing something for the fun of it,” Stephanie says. “I plan on not repeating my freshman year of high school in college and hope to become more bold and more confident in my abilities and skills.”
Due to these experiences, Stephanie advises younger students not to let a reserved or introverted personality keep them from participating in activities. “You might regret that you didn’t do those activities, and they could have helped you find your friend group in high school,” Stephanie says. “If you join many different classes and clubs, you will find your friend group. Don’t rush your friendships and relationships; keep your head high.”
She also urges freshmen to explore what high school has to offer and find their study style so that they can set good habits for more challenging classes in their junior and senior years. “Then, when you become an upperclassman, start finding what makes you happy. It’s okay to leave something you don’t enjoy,” Stephanie says. “Don’t do things for college applications or resumes; do things that you are passionate about, which will make you proud to talk about for hours.”