“Life is not always beautiful, but it is a beautiful ride,” SPELL Scholarship recipient Vo Thi Tuyet Tra says as she reflects on her journey from a poor rural area of Vietnam—the Tien Phuoc District of Quang Nam Province—to where she is now, Danang University of Economics.
For families like Tra’s, education beyond primary school is an unaffordable luxury. Expenses such as school fees, books, uniforms and transportation make it nearly impossible for poor students to continue their education, regardless of their academic performance. Thrive Networks’ Scholarship Program to Enhance Literacy and Learning (SPELL) covers these costs and provides a number of additional support measures such as rigorous, regular tutoring and the opportunity to participate in English immersion summer sessions.
Tra was eight years old when she was selected to participate in the SPELL program. The youngest of four girls, Tra realized that the best way she could help herself and her family was, as she puts it, “by trying my best to study more and more in school.” SPELL gave her the support she needed to continue her education and by high school Tra had grown into a dedicated and successful student. She graduated high school and went on to win a four-year university scholarship through the SPELL Goes to College program.
Here is Tra in her own words on what SPELL, particularly the Summer English Program, has meant to her:
“I was so delighted to be selected to study in the SPELL Summer English Program (SSEP) for two years in succession. Here I could directly communicate with native English speakers, make friends with them and so many nice people who have the same background as me. It was a great time and thanks to the program, when I came back to my home town, I won first prize in an English Speaking Contest from among many high school students in my province.
After graduating high school, I with all of my ambitions decided to study Marketing in Danang University of Economics and once more, SPELL give me a big helping hand by covering my university fees and some expenses. I could not imagine how many obstacles I would face without SPELL.
Now I am using all of my experience and knowledge. For two summers I have worked as a teaching assistant at Fisher’s Super Kids’ English Center helping other students take part in SSEP. I earn my own salary as real staff. I find it so exciting and I am so proud of myself as well.”
Tra continues to excel in her studies and help others on their educational journey. She says that although her life did not start out beautifully, today she feels “confident and empowered” to make her dream of becoming a business woman come true thanks in no small part to SPELL. She is well on her way, and enjoying the beauty of the ride.