College of Arts & Sciences ’10
Growing up in Fairfax County, Mary Nguyen attended high school with many students who never had to worry about whether they would be able to afford to go to the college of their choice. But for Ms. Nguyen’s family, which emigrated from Vietnam a quarter century ago, resources were more limited. Thanks to AccessUVA, Ms. Nguyen, a biology and linguistics major, didn’t have to compromise when it came to having the college experience that she had dreamt of as a child.
“Northern Virginia is a pretty wealthy area, but there are a lot of low-income students who are often unnoticed,” she said. “A lot of students don’t even consider college, because they don’t think they can afford it.”
Ms. Nguyen and five other AccessUVA scholars want to be sure these students do get noticed at U.Va. They formed an organization to support current students and spread the word that U.Va. is an option for all. In its first year, Hoos for Open Access hosted social gatherings for current students and presented a successful financial literacy workshop. Members also traveled to their former high schools to promote the affordability of higher education and AccessUVA. One member is also creating a searchable database of scholarship opportunities available to low-income students.
Beyond taking those first steps, Ms. Nguyen and her colleagues want to guarantee the future of AccessUVA by advocating for a fund specifically designated for the program. “We want donors to have an accessible way to donate money specifically for AccessUVA,” she said. “We want to make sure that the money is always there, because it helps so many students.”