Like many his age, Trong Nguyen doesn't like doing homework. Still, with a high school career grade-point average of 4.56, he graduated at the top of the class of 2010 at Tokay High School and was chosen as valedictorian.
"I excelled at taking tests," Nguyen said of his high achievements. "I was driven to excel in high school by the standards my brother set for me, and mostly because I wanted to be the best and make everyone I knew proud."
He will start as an engineering major at University of California, Los Angeles come fall.
Next stop: medical school. But he's still unsure about a profession, something that is sure to fall into place for a student with such high ambitions.
One thing he can't live without? "My laptop; it has so many uses in my daily life."
During high school, he participated in varsity tennis, Science Olympiad, Science Bowl, Academic Decathlon, Key Club, National Honor Society, California Scholarship Federation, Science Club, Spanish Club, Brain Club, Parklane Elementary School tutor, Church of the Presentation Lifeteen Youth Group and Lodi Lake Storm Drain Detectives, and he was a Lodi Memorial Hospital junior volunteer.
Are you an incoming freshman who wants to end your high school career like Nguyen?
He suggests getting started as soon as possible to prepare for the future years, especially since freshman year is generally quite easy, he said.
"Its a good idea to get accustomed to juggling everything when (you) are younger. Make friends who take similar course loads who you can study with or get information from, and most of all plan out the classes you will take each year throughout your high school career if you really want to go for that high GPA."
If he could thank anyone for contributing to his education, Nguyen said it would be his siblings for setting such a high bar and giving him advice throughout high school.
In an e-mail, he proudly ticks off their accomplishments:
- His oldest sister, Tran, 25, is currently living in Modesto and engaged. She got her pharmacy degree at University of Pacific.
- His brother, Thien Nguyen, is nearly 23. He graduated from UCLA last year as a physiological sciences major. He currently works as an Emergency Medical Technician in Irvine, and will be attending medical school in Philadelphia in the fall.
- Youngest sister, Thy Nguyen, is nearly 21. She is a junior at University of California, San Diego majoring in psychology.
His parents are Trung Nguyen and Xuan-Huong Pham.