Introducing Kim Pham, Valedictorian
While living in South Vietnam, the youngest of six children, Kim Pham wasn’t able to achieve her dream of furthering her education. And when she came to the United States with her husband in 2000, she needed to work to help support her family, which now includes two young sons. So five years ago, when she finally had the opportunity, she was thrilled to begin attending Laney College, which was close to her home, to take ESL classes to learn English.
She then completed her General Ed requirements and started taking classes at Merritt College with a goal of becoming a teacher and fulfilling her passion of working with children. She quickly headed to the top of the class in her studies and also worked as a preschool teacher at Headstart in Oakland. She graduated in May with a 4.0 GPA and was proud to be named valedictorian.
She will continue her studies at Cal State East Bay. “I faced many challenges with cultural differences, language barriers, and understanding a new environment,” says Kim. “However all of my hard work has paid off today, and I am so happy to say thank you to all my professors who helped me so much to be successful at pursuing my dream. I hope someday to open my own childcare center for immigrant children and those in need.”
And her teachers couldn’t be more proud of her and her accomplishments as they watch her move on to continue her studies. “Both as a college student and as a student teacher, Kim understood and embraced the role of a learner,” says Christine Olsen, chair of the Childhood Development Program and one of Kim’s instructors. “She was curious and open to new ideas and would apply them to her work with the children as a student teacher. She came to class and to the lab school well prepared and was a committed member of the student teacher team. We are so excited for her success and wish her all the best!
Introducing Tania Horne, Salutatorian
Tania Horne, born in Hobart, Tasmania, came to the United States in 2012. With over 15 years experience serving people of disadvantaged and marginalized backgrounds in the field of criminal justice in Australia, she returned to school with a goal of bringing best management practices from her home country to make positive contributions in the United States.
Although going back to school after such a long time presented significant challenges, Tania worked hard to gain an understanding of U.S. history, political science, and justice. She graduated as the 2016 Salutatorian of Merritt College with Associate degrees in both Justice Administration and Social and Behavioral Sciences.
With a passion for restorative justice, Tania has accepted a position with the University of California, San Francisco for the next year to support the re-entry population in successfully securing gainful employment and transitioning back into the community. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, yoga, and sailing around the San Francisco Bay. She plans to resume her studies in fall of 2017 and hopes to ultimately earn a master’s degree in Criminal Justice.