On May 30th, classmate Don Auble represented the class and presented the Class of 1962 Scholarship to Thai Truong, a Berea Midpark High ’19 graduate. Thai is an impressive young man, as conveyed in his Common Application essay, which is presented below.
Regrets? I’ve Had a Few by Thai Truong
I’ve regretted a number of things in my life—I mean, who hasn’t?—from
overestimating my spice tolerance and putting too much Sriracha sauce in my Pho
(probably the best Asian noodles out there, hands down) to telling a McDonald’s
cashier I wanted “two McDonalds” instead of “two McChickens” (I must have been
really tired that day). However, what I regret the most is slamming the bathroom
door closed on my ninth birthday and screaming, “Con ghét me!” (Mom, I hate you!),
all because she didn’t give me a Nintendo DS. Looking back at it now, I realize that
she just couldn’t afford the hefty $149.99 price tag.
About a year before my outburst, my parents and I left Vietnam—our home
country where I spent the first eight years of my life. My parents gave up
everything—friends, family, and stable jobs—to move to a country where they had
nothing and understood only three words, “hello,” “yes,” and “no.” They made this
move, not for their own benefit, but for mine so that I would have more opportunities
for success. My dad worked seven days a week, for minimum wage, operating a
cutting machine in a printing company where he was eventually injured; my mom
was pregnant and couldn’t find work then.
At the time, I was an unappreciative eight-year-old brat. All I cared about was
trying to blend in with my American peers. I hated being the only kid who brought
weird Asian food to lunch, hated being pulled out of class for private ESL lessons,
and hated not understanding my teachers. The day I slammed the bathroom door I
unleashed all my anger and frustration on my parents, blaming them for all my
misfortunes. Amazingly, when they later spoke to me, it was not with their usual
angry disciplinary voice, but rather with soft-spoken apologetic feeling. This was
mind-blowing since my parents have never been emotionally expressive people. In
fact, I still recall the first time I told my parents that I loved them. They stared at me
like I was crazy and waved me away, not because they didn’t love me, but because
that’s just not how my parents display their emotions. Their way of showing
affection was by creating the opportunity for me to succeed. They would sacrifice
everything to ensure that I had a chance for a bright future, and never ask for a
thank-you—that’s just how my parents are.
As time passed, my English improved as did my self-confidence. I made
friends, laughed at jokes I now understood, and, most importantly, was able to
perceive my parents in a different way, to understand what they had done for me. I
can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I finally understood their sacrifices, but that
realization became the fuel that now drives my ambition and desire to succeed.
I discovered my interest in computer programming after being accepted into
the HyTech Club at Hyland Software, a large software company near my home. I
spent Wednesday evenings there for three years, learning different computer
languages. I self-taught in my free time and enrolled in college-level programming
classes. All this led to the most gratifying moment in my life: being offered an
internship at the NASA Glenn Research Center. When I told my parents the news,
there were smiles on their faces. There was no need for a hug or an “I’m proud of
you”; their smiles said it all.
Regrets? Unlike Frank Sinatra, I have had more than just a few. I know that I
can’t take back that thoughtless blunder I made ten years ago. But I learned from it,
and I now know that I can make it up to my mom—not by apologizing, saying a
simple “Con xin loi,” but rather by making the most of what she and my father have
tirelessly worked to give me.