Colorado Challenge Student of the Year Spreads Message of Positivity to Peers

Charline Nguyen’s optimistic energy is contagious—and she plans to spread it.

As a Students Empowered Educated Determined (SEED) Scholar who completed her associate’s degree through the Community College of Denver in May, Charline will start her first year at Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) in the computer information systems program this fall. Outside of class, Charline works in the education technology center, where she assists students and faculty with classroom technology.

“School, for me, isn’t just school. I want to make it a very personal experience, and I want to connect with everyone in my path,” Charline said.

As one of four recipients of the Colorado Challenge Student of the Year Award, Charline’s accomplishments speak to her success, but she said that the path has been “like a rollercoaster.”

“Coming out of high school, I had that drive to go to college, but I ended up being too overwhelmed because it was so different,” Charline reflected.

Charline said she initially struggled to navigate the lifestyle adjustment from high school to college, and that it was difficult to find a balance between the fast-paced classes and new environment, while working long hours on top of that.

“I ended up getting put on financial aid warning. And when I reached that, I had an epiphany,” Charline said. “I was already going to college loan-free, and I needed to force myself to keep going. I realized I just needed to readjust everything.”

From that point, Charline started researching other options to transfer and make the readjustment she needed. She discovered the transfer program between the Community College of Denver (CCD) and MSU, and knew she had to take advantage of the opportunity. In her first year at CCD, her Colorado Challenge advisor recommended the SEED program, which further supports DSF Scholars at CCD through the process of transferring to a four-year college after completion of their associate’s degree.

“I’m really proud of myself for that 180. Rather than giving up school completely, I realized what an advantage I have that not everybody has, and if I were to work and continue going to school, I wouldn’t be wasting that,” Charline said.

As a first-generation college student whose parents emigrated from Vietnam, Charline said she wants to make the most of the opportunities her parents have given her.

“Both my parents gave up everything they had in Vietnam after the war to find freedom in the United States. I took bits and pieces of my parents’ American Dream and turned it into my own. I got to attend college, I got my associate’s degree, I am going to school loan-free, I’m continuing to receive my bachelor’s degree, and my major is something I grew to love because of my dad’s passion for fixing computers.”

Charline said that her realization also helped her appreciate the support that DSF and Colorado Challenge have given her, and has developed networking skills through her experiences. From check-in meetings with advisors to workshops and networking events, Charline started to branch out and take advantage of opportunities to share her story, becoming a leader among her peers in the process and encouraging them to take advantage, too.

“All of these doors just opened up in front of me, and no matter which one I picked there was still a good opportunity. Other students really like listening to other students. I like to remind my peers to take advantage of what they have, and use it to the maximum. We can meet so many people through networking.”

To learn more about the SEED program and other SEED Scholars like Charline, please visit https://denverscholarship.org/give/college-success-mentoring-program-seed/.