In January 2004, officers of the Rice University Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) in Houston, Texas, founded the Youth Leadership Workshop to introduce Vietnamese high school students to opportunities at a top university and the importance of service and leadership in the Vietnamese American community.
Although the initial turnout of 12 students in the spring of 2004 was very modest, Rice VSA partnered with other Houston VSAs and community organizations – Hope Initiative, Inc., the Vietnamese Culture and Science Association (VCSA), and Boat People SOS-Houston – and media outlets, such as Radio Saigon Houston 900 AM, to develop the program and find effective ways to market the workshop series. In the fall of 2004, the Youth Leadership Workshop was renamed the College Leadership Workshop.
Since 2005, CLW has consistently drawn 80 high school students each year, with the recent 2015 workshop consisting of over 40 CLW volunteers who served 126 student participants and 50 parents. Through improved outreach strategies, we hope to continue the growth of the program this year and incoming years. Surveys and continued correspondence with past participants have suggested that CLW has made an impact on the lives of many students, as many high school students now successfully attend Houston universities. In fact, some of them who now attend Rice University joined our VSA organization as well.
In 2005, Texas State Representative Hubert Vo believed in the program enough to volunteer as the CLW keynote speaker. In addition to Hubert Vo, past speakers include Howard Chen, dance group ArchiTEKS, and Rice professor Dr. Lesa Tran. Rice VSA officers are also alumni of CLW, a testament to the effectiveness of this program.
Held at Rice University, the College Leadership Workshop is an event designed to empower high school students with the knowledge and incentive to apply to college. The event is led entirely by college student volunteers from various universities in the Greater Houston area who are eager to share with the participants their insights on college life and academics as well as the admissions process.
Besides inspiring all students to strive for higher education, we would like to give them tips about applying to college. The event will consist of a series of workshops covering a wide variety of topics from tackling the essay and extracurricular activities, to financial aid and how to choose the right college. We will also provide a glimpse of the Rice college life and dispel some common myths and fears of students who are thinking about college. Furthermore, we hope to help students develop leadership skills so that they can be successful not only in their college endeavors, but also in any other additional future plans they may have.
Previous years’ workshops have been great successes, and we hope to make this year’s workshop even better. We will be providing breakfast, lunch, and all necessary supplies for the workshop. The event will be open to all interested students, but will be especially geared towards Vietnamese and Asian-American students.
Much of the day will be spent with mostly Rice students who will share their college experiences as well as any difficulties they had while applying to college. High school students will have opportunities to ask Rice undergraduates any questions they may have about Rice, college in general, or anything else that comes to mind.
We would like to stress that our goal for the day is not to recruit students to Rice. Our main goal is to help students along in the application process no matter what school they are interested in. We may draw more examples from our experience in applying to Rice, but ultimately, we want to encourage students to apply to any school they wish to attend.
We will be discussing some of the factors that we considered as high school seniors in choosing a college and talk about some of the applications we filled out to other schools besides Rice. As always, if students are indeed interested in Rice, we would love to see them as our classmates in the near future and help them as much as possible throughout the application process.