Skip to main content
Extraordinary Impact

Making Time for Community

Students like Kristine Huynh have a lot on their plates. Scholarships help relieve the financial pressure, providing more time to form communities and get involved on campus.

Kristine Huynh headshot
Kristine Huynh, Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship recipient and College of Engineering student, is pictured inside Fitts-Woolard Hall on Centennial Campus. Photo by Marc Hall.

There’s no season of busyness quite like being in college. Between going to class and studying, applying to internships and jobs, exercising, hanging out with friends, cheering on the Wolfpack, eating and sleeping, it can often feel like a herculean feat to get everything done week to week.

That feeling is true enough for NC State junior Kristine Huynh. In addition to her classes in the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, she works two jobs and volunteers with different campus groups.

And while all these things keep her schedule busy, the community she found through campus organizations like the Vietnamese Student Association and the Career Ambassadors Program has formed such a crucial pillar of her college experience, she wouldn’t dream of giving them up.

Huynh grew up in Gastonia, North Carolina. Her desire to come to Raleigh stemmed from NC State’s strong academic programs. Right alongside that, though, was a desire to learn more about her own culture.

Huynh’s parents are Vietnamese; while she felt very proud of her heritage growing up, she found it difficult to explore in depth in her hometown.

While researching different colleges, she discovered NC State’s Vietnamese Student Association (VSA), an organization committed to strengthening awareness of Vietnamese and Asian culture.

“A lot of things that I’ve done in the past involved a community,” Huynh said. “And the Vietnamese Student Association, that’s a big community that I’m part of [now].”

Huynh (left, back row) performs alongside other members of the Vietnamese Student Association. Photo courtesy of Kristine Huynh.

Once a university student, Huynh immediately got involved with the VSA. By her sophomore year she was serving as the internal vice president, which at times felt like a part-time job in terms of time commitment — upward of 15 hours a week. It was worth it, however, to plan meaningful cultural events and help lead the organization’s peer mentorship program.

“A leadership position within a supporting community enabled me to grow a lot and learn within a supportive crowd,” Huynh said.

She came to NC State planning to pursue a career as an urban planner. To do that, she chose to study environmental science. After some exploration her freshman year, she eventually applied to switch to the College of Engineering. 

“I wanted to go into healthcare and make a bigger impact on the world,” Huynh said. “That’s also why I chose environmental science at first. But industrial engineering was more systematic and I’m a very logical thinker.”

Huynh is particularly interested in human and health systems within her department. She’ll be applying to the Health Systems Certificate Program for her senior year and one of her part-time jobs, at the Ergonomics Center on campus, focuses on human systems. Being in ISE also means taking classes in Fitts-Woolard Hall, one of the “best buildings on campus” according to Huynh.

Fitts-Woolard Hall opened in 2020 to complete the Engineering Oval on Centennial Campus. Photo by Becky Kirkland.

Around the time she switched majors, Huynh became aware of another campus community: the Career Ambassadors. The Career Ambassador Program pools students from all NC State colleges to “educate and serve” fellow students in professional areas like resume writing and interviewing.

  • Present programs in residence halls, as well as clubs & organizations
  • Represent the Career Development Center at events and career fairs
  • Train students on using ePACK
  • Lead the university’s annual career conference, CareerCON
  • Mentor students on developing the NACE Career Readiness Competencies

The program has served Huynh as a space to grow in knowledge and confidence. The ambassador group itself is diverse and quite small, which has helped form another community.

“It’s a really tight group as there’s only about 25 of us,” Huynh said.

As an ambassador, Huynh helps her peers become more confident in applying their classroom learning to their job hunts. She sees the chance to share the knowledge she has gleaned from the Career Development Center’s leadership staff as an opportunity to help everyone win.

The Career Ambassador Program is an integral part of the services NC State’s Career Development Center provides. Photo courtesy of Kristine Huynh.

While her commitments to the VSA and the Career Ambassadors are deeply important to her, they are volunteer roles, meaning they don’t do much to help her achieve her goal of graduating college debt-free. To do that, she often takes extra classes and works two part-time jobs. She joked that if given her choice of a superpower, she would choose the ability to go without sleep.

While superpowers may, unfortunately, not be real, what is real is the impact that has been made on Huynh’s life through receiving The Endowment Fund Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship, first in 2022 and then renewed for 2023. 

Scholarships Help Students Build Community

You can make a life-changing difference in the lives of students like Kristine Huynh by supporting the Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship Initiative.

Since February 2020, NC State’s Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (EOSI) has been instrumental in helping students from North Carolina fill gaps in their funding needs. To date, there have been 434 unique recipients of the scholarship.

“That scholarship just helps me not think about, ‘Oh, I have to go into work and do a lot of hours so that I’ll be able to save money and enjoy it and do the things that I want to put effort into,” Huynh said. “… I also need time for self care and mental health and to be a person.”

As an EOSI scholar, Huynh has been able to take a step back and focus more time on exploring the resources NC State has to offer. She has experienced more freedom to take bigger risks and experience greater rewards.

Scholarship support has given her more time to dedicate to building a community, something very important for her college experience. With that community, she is putting her best foot forward academically and beyond.