by Shawnna Hunt & Jerri Whitner, Student Contributors
Jasmine Ly has travelled from the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam to the calm mountains of Pippa Passes, Kentucky to further her education. Currently a junior Dual-Degree Nursing major at Alice Lloyd College, Jasmine has learned and experienced things in America that has laid the foundation for her future.
Even though Jasmine has not been to Vietnam in three years she speaks of her home in a fond manner by describing the atmosphere, “Vietnam is a very beautiful place with a lot of beaches and diverse food.” Jasmine also loves the warm weather of Vietnam that rarely gets below seventy-eight degrees. In Vietnam, she attended Tan Binh High School where there were forty-five in a class and a school day lasted from 6:45 in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon. The academic material was heavy and many nights she had to stay up late studying, but nevertheless, her schooling prepared her for ALC.
Jasmine learned of ALC through her sister Genny Ly, who attended ALC and graduated in 2014. The opportunities that Genny received appealed to Jasmine, so with the encouragement from her parents she decided to come to America. When asked how she felt about coming to America she said, “I was excited to come to a completely different country, but I was definitely nervous about communicating with others.” Jasmine did not have many chances to practice her English in Vietnam, so when she came to ALC she felt insecure about her ability to talk with her fellow peers. Her apprehension led her to stay in her room the majority of her first semester at ALC, but with some encouragement from her sister, she began to socialize more around campus. By talking with others, Jasmine’s English began to improve allowing her to no longer be nervous and she was able to understand her classes better. Even without the language barrier, it takes her longer to study, but she states, “I’m doing things slower, but I’m doing it and getting it.”
Although Jasmine struggled when she first arrived at ALC, she found that the people at the college are friendly and helpful, and she feels as though teachers, students, and staff all act as a big family. Many people have supported her at ALC especially Mrs. Irma Stepp who Jasmine says, “Is a sweet, faithful woman that has helped me so much by just talking to me or giving me extra sweaters when winter came.” All those who Jasmine has come in contact with has supported her and helped her to get through the difficult times.
At Alice Lloyd College, all students are required to participate in a work study program with the hopes that students will be more successful and prepared for life after graduation. Jasmine is a twenty-hour worker and she splits her time between the Office of Alumni Relations and other jobs on campus. She believes that her work study is preparing her for her future career of nursing by allowing her to communicate and learn to be patient with others, but most importantly herself. When Jasmine first began her work study, she was too nervous to ask questions for things she didn’t understand, and she quickly became upset with herself for not completing her tasks in a proficient manner. Her co-worker, Emaly Slone, encouraged her to ask questions on things she didn’t know, so Jasmine took Emaly’s advice and learned that her boss was willing to help her better understand and perform her work study position. Jasmine’s favorite aspect of her work study is the Christmas gift exchange that they have every year. She enjoys giving and receiving the gifts because it was not something that she did in Vietnam.
While on campus, Jasmine has also been involved in a few extracurricular activities that the college offers. When time allowed, she attended meetings for the Allied Health Club and the Impact Club. She believes that one of the main benefits of these clubs was the connections that she was able to make with speakers in science fields that came out and spoke to members about higher education and their lives in the workplace. She also enjoys the community service opportunities the clubs provided for her, such as helping collect donations for children, hospitals, and families in need. Last summer, Jasmine volunteered on her own at the St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington and she plans to volunteer there again this summer. At the hospital, she mainly observes different areas of the workplace to help her decide where her talents best fit. After her schooling, Jasmine would like to work at a well-known hospital such as UK or Central Baptist Health in Lexington.
Throughout her college journey, she says that her sister Genny has been the most influential person. When Genny was going to ALC a gap formed between them because they were not there for each other like they used to be. When Genny was accepted into the Caney Cottage Program she was able to save money to help Jasmine attend ALC. Once Jasmine came to America to attend college she and her sister began spending more time together and grew close again. Having Genny by her side has assisted Jasmine to grow into the person she is.
Jasmine knows that her story is different than that of the traditional Appalachian college student, but she has found it a blessing saying, “God has blessed me and my sister to come to ALC. While here I have learned to love people and live a life like Jesus.” Her experience at ALC has given her a story that she believes will motivate others to have confidence and know that, despite the challenges one may face, his or her efforts will be worth it in the end. Her family, friends, and ALC have encouraged Jasmine to go beyond what she thought she could do and helped her to find her purpose in life: to care for those in need.