Posted on December 06 2016
Hey y'all, I wanted to bring on another Guest Blogger to feature. Many of you will recognize Tina as she has been modeling for us for 2 years now. She is equally as sweet and beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. I hope you enjoy reading her story!
My name is Tina Nguyen, and I am a junior Telecommunications and Media Studies Major at Texas A&M University. I have also been one of the Brand Models for Southern Jewlz throughout my college experience. I have been modeling for Southern Jewlz since my freshman year of college. I attended one of Randa’s casting calls and was chosen to be a runway model in her “If the Crown Fits, Wear It!” fashion show to help raise money for a charity called Phoebe’s Home. After the fashion show, I began modeling more for Southern Jewlz by being featured in the annual collections. I count myself as blessed to know Randa because she has been a role model, encourager, and motivator in my life.
To share my background, I am a daughter of two immigrants; both of my parents came to America a little over 30 years ago from Vietnam. It was the peak of chaos in their home country, and they chose to take a leap of faith to leave behind their family for a chance to create a better life. They each arrived to America separately. My dad was a refugee, and my mom was on a boat for two months in hopes to reach her destination of America. They arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They had to quickly figure out how to make a living for themselves in a land they knew as the “land of opportunities.” As a child, I always knew I was different. Not in a good kind of different, but in the kind that makes you feel like an outsider and that you aren’t good enough to be accepted. For instance, I looked different. I was tall, lanky, and extremely tan. When I was in second grade, I wore a blue, long sleeve jacket every single day because I was afraid people would make fun of me for being too skinny. I remember walking into places as a young girl, and people would ask me if I eat, or they would hold my wrist and make endless comments about how tiny it was. Even when we had to run the mile, I would not take my jacket off. It took me a whole school year to build up courage to finally take my jacket off on the very last day of school. I remember taking a big sigh of relief because I could finally breath in my own skin and not be ashamed.
Not only were my physical appearances different, but also my parents were different because they could not speak English. My parents also did not understand the American culture and all the traditions I heard of in school. Because of such differences, it didn’t help the idea of trying to be “normal”. I remember being 7-years-old and having to translate for my mom whenever we would go. Emotions of frustration and shame would creep in because I thought my mom should have known. With time, I have learned that my parents did not finish high school or earn a college degree. My dad was 16-years-old when he arrived and was placed in high school because of his age. When he turned 18, he dropped out because he said, “If I stayed in school, I was not going to have any money. I had to go figure out a way to make a living.” I remember late nights talking with my dad, as he explained what it was like to have little money here but that he made an effort to make enough to send back to his family in Vietnam.
As I got older, I understood more of what their journey to America was like. When I was 16, I started to ask the tough questions to my dad. That is when my heart became more understanding, compassion, and appreciative towards all they had gone through. I started to understand the struggles they dealt with, and the sacrifices they made to give their family of four children a better life. I will admit though that my heart aches when I remember their sacrifices because I know deep down that nothing I accomplish can compare to what they have done for me. I remember being 8-years-old and my parents would leave for work as early as 5 a.m. and wouldn’t come home until 8 p.m. because they had to work so much. I remember the tears that streamed down my face when I saw the clock and realized that me going to bed meant I wouldn’t see them for another day.
Fast-forward to today, both my parents are business owners and have made a living for themselves and can give their four kids a better life than their own. Their scarifies they made to give me and my three younger siblings a way for a better life is something that the words “thank you” won’t ever be able to fully grasp.
Because of their hard work, I am able to attend Texas A&M University. I will always remember sharing that moment of touring the campus of Texas A&M with my dad because it was the first college campus he had ever stepped on since being in America. I remember so badly wanting to receive admission to this campus. I wanted to make my parents proud by being the first generation college student in the family. My dad always reminds me of how lucky I am to be living in America because it is a land where you can have a shot at being successful if you work hard and never give up. My parents have showed me that success can be achieved when you work hard, persevere, have faith in yourself, and chase the dreams and desires placed in your heart. As I get older, I have learned more about the importance of embracing my own uniqueness, whether it is the skin that I am in or the background that I come from. Each of us have gifts and talents that can change this world for the better. I truly believe that the desires and passions that are in our hearts aren’t there by accident. It is there for a purpose and for you to pursue with endless drive and grit. As Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.” I challenge you today to write down the desires and dreams that are hidden in your heart. Shine light on them, and I challenge chase after your dreams. After all, you are capable.