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UC Freshman Huey Do Attended College at His High School

Date: July 15, 2002
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos by Colleen Kelley and Dottie Stover
Archive: Profiles

Huey Do is one of thousands of new students attending summer orientation at the University of Cincinnati. But Huey got an early start on his college education through a partnership between Western Hills High School and UC. The 17-year-old mechanical engineering major picked up 18 UC credit hours while he was still a senior in high school, and the classes were taught right at Western Hills.

Huey Do at UC orientation

Huey earned the college credit through a partnership between University College and Western Hills that started last year. He was one of about 100 high school seniors at Western Hills who qualified academically for the program, which offered college credit to high school students at a considerable savings. The program is aimed at turning local high school graduates into college grads as well.

"I was interested in the classes because they offered college credit for a very low price, and I also wanted to see what classes would be like at a university," he says. The college courses did require more work, he says, but earned him college credit for English composition and math courses that he can now transfer to his major.

A strong math student, Huey says he was interested in coming to UC from the time he was a sophomore, because of its prestigious engineering program and because he wanted to stay close to his mom. His interest in engineering was fueled by immigrating to the United States from Saigon in 1991.

"When I came over to the United States, I saw all of these cars. In Vietnam, we didn't have cars -- we just had bicycles and mopeds. So when I got to the U.S. and saw all the cars, how they moved and how they were designed, it really got my interest going in engineering."

His University College professors who team-taught the courses with the Western Hills staff describe Huey as a stellar student. He won high school awards for both academics and service, was a member of the Cum Laude Society, was Westwood Civic Association Student of the Year and served as a tutor for the Upward Bound program for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Huey Do at UC orientation

"Huey was my student for English comp 102 and 103," says Assistant Professor Ann Hinkle. "Mostly during class, he was a quiet student. However, one day I walked in, and before class started, he said, 'I protest! Why do we have to do all this work?' I told him he was a very good writer, and didn't he want people to read what he had to say?"

That gift for writing got Huey an honorable mention in UC's student writing contest, which is open to students in all UC access colleges who are taking preparatory or first-year English composition. The winners get to see their writing published in "Bravo: An Anthology of Award-Winning Student Writing." The textbook can be used in UC's English composition classes. Huey got an honorable mention for a personal experience essay.

"Huey is one of the most sensitive writers I've encountered in my teaching at UC, both on campus and off," says Associate Professor Jonathan Alexander. Huey's essay was written as part of an assignment for Alexander's class. "For one so young, he has a nicely developing sense of personal voice. When you read his essays, particularly his personal narratives, you feel someone is speaking directly to you about intimate and meaningful experiences.

"For instance, the narrative essay he wrote for English 101, detailing some of his experiences as a Vietnamese-American student, beautifully displayed Huey's talent in using expressive details to show how little moments can be packed with meaning."

The praise for his writing helped build the confidence of this student who was still learning English after he moved to the United States.

"Huey represents the very type of student that we had in mind when we initially designed this program," says Elizabeth Thole, Huey's Western Hills High School English teacher. "He entered the class as a bright, highly motivated student, but he had a real lack of faith in his ability to excel in a college-level composition setting. He looked within himself, though and found the courage and determination to keep working."

Huey's UC experience in high school also led to a homecoming of sorts at UC orientation. While other new students were learning about UC's Just Community initiative, Huey remembered the Just Community Readings students read and discussed in his college courses at Western Hills. Some of his excellent writings reflected on his feelings of what exemplifies a Just Community.

Student Orientation Leaders checking the Just Community flags

At orientation, Huey was among the students that divided into groups to design flags depicting the students' vision of a Just Community. The 192 individual flags will be tied together and raised as a class banner at UC Convocation in September.

Huey's also getting a jump on building connections on campus, and national research shows that forming these connections gives students a greater chance of earning a college degree. Huey's not only interested in joining academic organizations, but as a yellow belt in Kung Fu, he wants to check out the UC Martial Arts club he learned about at orientation.

Meanwhile, the UC/Western Hills program is showing more formal signs of success. In a Cincinnati Public Schools Survey of the Western Hills High School graduating class of 2001, only 35 percent of the graduates said they had enrolled in a post-secondary educational program. That was before the University College partnership began the following fall.

In a February 2002 survey of the West High/UC program in which Huey had enrolled, all 61 of the students who responded to the survey said they planned to go to college. This fall, University College is adding part of the course series, Biology in a Human Context, as a Western Hills option. The Western Hills students who take the courses this fall will pay $15 dollars per credit hour, or $45 per college-level class. The remaining cost of the college courses is divided between Western Hills, University College and the Cincinnati Business Committee.

"The UC project at West High has exceeded our expectations," says John Bryan, dean of University College. "More students persisted from fall to spring. They earned more credits than we expected. The working relationships between the UC faculty and the West High teachers went better than we dared hope. The commitments of both the West High administration and the Cincinnati Business Committee never flagged. From my perspective, the project is an unqualified success."

Now we wish Huey all success, as he joins our UC family.

To meet other UC people, go to the profiles archive.

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