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Northeast student 1 of 8 Achieving the Dream scholars for 2020

Community Contributor Tom Wilson • Jan 27, 2020 at 6:30 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Northeast State Community College student Tuan Nguyen has been named one of eight Achieving the Dream (ATD) 2020 DREAM Scholars selected from across the United States through the ATD Network.

As a DREAM Scholar, Nguyen will participate in the ATD DREAM 2020 Conference Feb. 18-21 at National Harbor, Md. He will join more than 2,300 invitees from approximately 350 institutions across the country. Alumna Samantha Parrish earned the DREAM Scholar award last year, making this the second year in a row an NSCC has received the honor.

“It is an honor to be selected to Achieving the Dream,” Nguyen said. “I am really proud to be accepted as a student representing our college.” He also is a semifinalist for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, one of three NSCC students in the running for that award to be announced in April. The other two are Jonathan Barrett and Kayti Stout


A first-generation college student and the son of immigrants, Nguyen enrolled at NSCC through the Tennessee Reconnect scholarship. He is an Honors Program student and member of Alpha Iota Chi chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. Nguyen serves as Honors-in-Action chair for the chapter.

The chapter’s 2019-20 research project studies adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their correlation to adult criminal behavior. The chapter has also established a Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP) at the college. The CRP seeks to offer support to students who are in recovery for substance abuse; wanting to be in recovery; or wishing to support others on their recovery.

Nguyen has made the President’s List in consecutive semesters while attending NSCC. A student named to the President’s List must complete a semester with a minimum 12 hours of college-level credit and a grade point average of 4.0.

“Growing up, we all think of college as something fearful, especially those of us that skipped over it and went straight to the workforce,” Nguyen said. “Northeast State has great teachers who were able to help me out. Also, the tutors at the learning center helped out tremendously.”


He said returning to college was an adjustment at first. While he had immediate academic success, Nguyen said joining Alpha Iota Chi ignited his desire to look beyond the classroom and serve fellow students and the campus community. The section of the ATD website on the 2020 scholars said Nguyen  went into the work force after high school but realized his lack of higher education “was an obstacle in the professional world” and thus decided to attend NSCC.

“Participating in their charity events and working on research projects with Phi Theta Kappa members showed me there is more that I can do rather than just go to class,” said Nguyen. “I made the decision to not only focus on class but also to participate in programs to help repay Northeast State for the opportunity it gave me.”

Nguyen is majoring in economics and marketing. He will graduate this spring. He plans to enroll at a four-year institution to pursue his bachelor’s degree.

“I want to stay focused this semester and see to the end the projects we have started,” Nguyen said. “I’m planning for the next stage of life and seeing what the future holds.”


The ATD program seeks to enhance leadership, critical thinking, and networking skills. 

ATD leads a growing network of more than 220 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth and economic opportunity.

According to information from NSCC and ATD, the program is making progress in closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with network colleges in 41 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students.