A San Diego teenager whose family immigrated to the United States from Vietnam when he was only 3 years old was accepted into Harvard University, a An opportunity that he said will change his life and that of his family.
"Her (my mother's) future, our family's future, has opened up to so many possibilities," said Thang Ho, 17, a resident of the City Heights community of San Diego.
Two San Diego teens from immigrant families have been accepted to Harvard University. The excitement of his achievement was captured on camera and the moments were joyous. Every teenager plans to do great things and give back to their communities.
Ho is a senior at Crawford High School and the top student in the class of 2021.
He is also now heading to Harvard University, joining the Ivy League school class of 2025 this fall, where he plans to major in computer science with a minor in psychology. He is the first Crawford High School student in 10 years to be accepted to Harvard.
Ho is one of two San Diego-area students to receive a full scholarship to the elite university. The other is Azul Marmolejo, a senior at Southwest High School, whose story you can read here.
Ho was accepted into Harvard University on April 6, 2021 at 4:01 p.m.
It is a day you will never forget.
Ho and his mom were zooming in with their older brother who lives in the Bay Area. His brother is his biggest supporter, the person who prompted him to apply to Harvard University.
"Without him, I wouldn't be here today," Ho told Telemundo 20 and NBC 7.
While on the video call that afternoon, Ho opened the school portal and there, scrolling on his own, saw his destination: "Congratulations, welcome to the class of 2025."
Then, there were shouts of pure joy. Many screams.
“It was a shock; it's actually almost hard to remember, ”Ho recounted. “My mom and I were screaming so loud in our little apartment that our neighbor, who is actually my aunt, said, 'Are you okay?' She thought we were at a crime scene or something, we were screaming so, so loud. ”
The screams turned into tears.
So much family sacrifice and so much work, all for this very moment.
“It kept repeating itself. That moment was surreal. I have never felt so much happiness in my life, "added Ho, saying that he had never been so proud of himself.
The teenager said that the moment not only belonged to him, but also belonged to his mother and brother. They are among his closest confidants, those who raise him
Ho said that his family – his mom, dad, brother and he – immigrated to the United States from Vietnam 14 years ago. His mother lived in a village and wanted a better life for her children.
He said the moment he entered Harvard was like a fairy tale, especially for his mother.
"Coming from a town and now that her son has entered one of the most prestigious universities, if this were a Disney story, it would be like going from poverty to riches," the teenager told Telemundo 20 and NBC 7. "It is it means so much to her. ”
Ho said his mother raised him and his brother, working long hours to give them all the opportunities she could.
He said his father had difficulty acclimatizing to the United States and, shortly after settling in the United States, his father suffered from substance abuse and bipolar disorder.
“Through that, he left a lot of marks and scars on my family,” explained the teenager.
His father ended up moving back to Vietnam and Ho, his mother and brother stayed in the United States
While his mother was working, Ho said that his brother became a second father to him.
"He was there to guide me, to guide me to Harvard, to be successful in life," Ho said. "I wanted the best for myself."
And that brotherly nudge worked.
With the help of his family, friends, teachers, and mentors from the San Diego-based First Gen Scholars organization, Ho entered the school of his dreams.
He said his mission now is to work hard at Harvard and prepare for a successful future where he can start paying his mother for everything she has done for him.
"She works non-stop for me. I want to give her exponentially what she gave me," said Ho.
After his time in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a Harvard student, Ho said he also wants to give back to the community that helped him grow.
Ho said he wants to work to improve mental health services for immigrants and underserved communities like City Heights. He wants to increase the good.
Seeing a bright path ahead for his future, Ho said that one of the most important lessons he will learn from this achievement is that a support system is fundamental in life and that he, although he may not always have felt it, is worth it. .
"I'm worth it. I'm supposed to go to Harvard, ”said the teenager, referring to what his mentors have made him realize.
Ho hopes that other first-generation college applicants will also find a way to believe in themselves.
"Just try it. It's better if you dream big and fail than aim too low and succeed, "he added.
The teen said the key is to surround yourself with people who support and drive your goals.
AND , when he needs a gentle reminder to move on, he will return to that time, at 4:01 pm, April 6, 2021.
Ho said that from now on he will make that date a special holiday in your personal calendar, just so you can stop and remember the level of happiness you felt that day.
“Just so that you can remember all those wonderful memories,” he said. Gen Scholars and the organization's mission to guide students from low-income families, refugees, and immigrants in San Diego to the best universities, visit this website.