Immigrant student finds ‘great start’ at GRCC



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications


April 29, 2014 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Many graduates would be proud to claim a 3.942 grade-point average, but it’s an especially rewarding achievement for a Grand Rapids Community College student who has been in the United States for only four years.

Khoa Ngo emigrated from Vietnam in September 2010. He soon started English-as-a-Second-Language classes at GRCC’s West Side Learning Corner.

“I had to take ESL classes at GRCC for about one full year,” he said. “After that, I was able to take regular courses on my degree path.”

Ngo found plenty of help and encouragement at GRCC, from his English instructors, at the Learning Corner, and TRiO/Student Support Services. He also worked as the campus’s Raider Grille; made the Dean’s List in 2011-12, the President’s List in 2011-12 and all of 2013; and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.

“For me, GRCC was a great start,” he said. “I took my very first steps at GRCC, and from that, I was able to improve myself as well as continue my education. I really appreciate all the faculty, staff and professors who helped me during the time I was at GRCC!”

Jennifer Keessen, Ngo’s TRiO adviser, said it’s been an inspiration to watch his progress.

“When Khao first came to our program, he had only been in the U.S. for a year and three months!” she said. "He has worked hard to improve his skills. TRiO/Student Support Services is a federally funded program designed to help students who are low income or are the first in their families to attend college. They meet regularly with counselors like me to navigate a path through GRCC to reach their goals.”

Ngo will receive an associate in arts degree during GRCC’s commencement at 6 p.m. May 2 in Ford Fieldhouse, 111 Lyon St. NE. He plans to pursue an accountancy degree at Ferris State University.

 Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.