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College dreams thrive despite pandemic for Bridge City graduate

By Dawn Burleigh

It remains a challenging time for students during the ongoing pandemic, and Scholarship America is dedicated to supporting students’ college dreams. Twenty-two exceptional students have been selected to receive Scholarship America’s 2021 Dream Award. The Dream Award is Scholarship America’s renewable scholarship program for students with financial need who have overcome significant barriers to make it to college. Since the Dream Award was created in 2014, over $2.4 million in scholarships, ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, have been awarded to 130 students.

One of those students is Victoria-Thy Doan of Orange who will now be able to attend University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio as she works on her undergraduate in Biochemistry.

The daughter of Vietnam War refugees, Doan has always been dedicated to giving back, even when times were tough. She has spent countless hours volunteering at her church, leading university organizations, and helping out at her family’s plant nursery when she is home from school. She exemplifies the resilience of her family, for they have endured cancer in her mom and grandfather, six hurricanes, and most recently, the Texas winter storm. With encouragement from her family and help from the Dream Award, Doan is working to complete her biochemistry degree, go on to medical school and become a physician.

“This award is helping me with my last bit of undergraduate studies,” Doan said. “I am currently working on applications for medical school.”

Despite the obstacles from natural disasters as well as concerns for loved ones’ health, she said her family and friends encouraged her to continue with her education.

“My parents worked so hard to get to where I am now,” Doan said. “My family and my friends supported me to continue my education.”

Doan has one more year of school before she graduates but then the next steps begin.

“Then there is four years of medical school, residency and then two years of fellowship,” Doan said.

At this time, she is undecided of which field she plans to specialize in.

“There are so many medical fields,” Doan said. “During clinical rounds I can decide.”

One aspect she is positive about is what time of area she wants to practice once she becomes a doctor.

“I want to work in a rural area,” Doan said. “I want to work in an underserved community.”

“I want to work in an underserved community and growing up in Orange will have a great influence in the possibility of working in a smaller community,” she added. “Working in the city is not out of the question because many cities also have underserved communities within them.”

Doan also accredits her teachers at Bridge City High School for helping her in reaching her dreams.

“Mrs. Riley was my English teacher as well as Drill Team Director,” Doan said. “She was supportive of me and taught me how to be the hard worker I am today. Mrs. Royal, director of student council taught me about leadership when I was on the executive team of student council.”

Doan is now President of the UIW Honors Program.

“I could not have done that without Mrs. Royal.”

“Our Dream Award scholars represent diverse abilities, ethnicities and identities, with a focus on historically underrepresented communities. They have overcome major hardships in their lives including serious illness, abandonment, abuse, family loss, poverty, foster care, and homelessness,” said Robert C. Ballard, president and CEO of Scholarship America. “These inspiring students are focused on getting the skills they need to pursue their dreams and help others.”

Seventy percent of Dream Award scholars are the first in their families to attend college; 80 percent contribute financially to their families’ income; and nearly one-third serve as caregivers in addition to being students.