First-Generation Success: Jennifer’s Story

As a young child growing up in a low-income household, Jennifer was motivated to be the first in her family to go to college and achieve financial freedom. Her parents had emigrated from Vietnam to provide better opportunities for their kids, and her mother, who was forced to drop out of school in the 3rd grade, always emphasized the importance of education.

“My mom used to cry when she saw the other kids going to school. She always wanted to go back but never got the opportunity,” Jennifer says. “She reminded me what a privilege it is, so I never took it for granted. I always tried to do my best.”

College was always on Jennifer’s mind because she felt it was a stepping stone to a good career. Throughout middle and high school, Jennifer worked diligently to increase her chances of getting into college by playing sports and holding leadership positions in student government while striving for academic excellence. She also joined CSF’s Achievers program to get the support and guidance she needed to pursue her dream of earning a bachelor’s degree.

With the help of CSF, she started building a community of support and networking with other students. After graduating from Kent Meridian High School in 2007, Jennifer reached one of the biggest milestones of her life: She became the first member of her family to go to college.

“My parents sacrificed a lot so that I would have a chance at higher education, so the moment we found out the great news, we were in tears,” she says. “We are so grateful to CSF for opening new doors for me.”

CSF continued to be there throughout her college journey whenever she had questions or needed support. “College is a big change from high school, and you have a lot of things to figure out. Having someone you can go to with questions makes it so much better,” she says. “That sense of community helps, too—having a group of peers to go through the experience with me made it an easier transition.”

Jennifer worked hard and concentrated on studying while in college. “I didn’t party or go out a lot—I was very focused on making sure that I did well so I could get a good job and start a career,” she says. “And it was worth it.”

After graduating from University of Washington in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Jennifer began a career in consulting where she had the opportunity to work with Fortune 100 companies spanning multiple industries. After a few years, she became a technical recruiter and helped others start careers in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Jennifer has also achieved tremendous success in her passion outside of work: beauty pageants. She joined her first competition at age 17, shortly after graduating from high school, and won the title of Miss Vietnam Global. She was recently crowned as the new titleholder at Mrs. Vietnam World and will be representing Vietnam at the 2019 Mrs. World pageant.

Jennifer is focused on serving her community in Washington as well as abroad in Vietnam because she feels “it’s important to give back and be an inspiration for someone else.” She looks forward to having her own online marketing business in the future, and she credits her college education and CSF with getting her to where she is today.

“When I think about my career, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my degree. It helped set me apart from other candidates,” Jennifer says. “I’m so grateful to CSF for everything they have done for me.”

On May 4, 2019, Jennifer made history as the first Vietnamese married woman to win the Mrs. World title. Congratulations, Jennifer!