NHCC PSEO student, Emily Tran

Juggling life during high school is tough enough as it is, but imagine adding college courses and extracurriculars to your plate on top of that? Emily Tran, a dual high school and PSEO student at NHCC is doing exactly that; and she does it with grace, determination and wisdom beyond her years! 


You’re a high school student and a PSEO student all at once; what’s a typical week like?  

I am a student at Coon Rapids High School, but I'm a full-time PSEO student. So, I don’t physically go to classes at CRHS, my whole schedule is NHCC courses. I'm on-campus Mondays and Wednesdays. On Tuesdays, Thursday’s and Fridays, I stay home and study, but I'm also part of the Phi Theta Kappa honors society (PTK), so I work with that group as well. 


How did you decide to go to college while you're in high school? 
Mainly, I found out from my cousin. We were talking and she said, ‘There's a program where you can do college while you’re in high school.’ I wanted to do it because it not only saves you money, but I also like getting the college experience early and I prefer that over a high school experience. 


You're graduating with your college degree and your high school degree this spring, right? 

Yes, I will graduate next month with a high school diploma and an associate degree! 


Will you have a red cap and gown for Coon Rapids and then a blue cap and gown for NHCC? 

It's interesting, because my NHCC graduation is May 10th but my high school graduation is June 2nd, so there’s a lot of time in between. It’s great though, because if I'm already graduated here, then I don't need to worry so much about the high school stuff. That’ll be really exciting! I can’t wait to take so many pictures at graduation in my cap and gown! I’ll have a stole and cords from PTK, too! 


What are you studying at NHCC? 

I'm just doing my generals. For now, I'm in the liberal arts program, but I want to transfer to a 
four-year school and go the pre-medical route. I want to be a physician assistant. I wasn’t interested in doing the full decade of medical schooling if I didn’t have to and I think being a PA is good overall.  


How did you decide to join PTK? 
When I first joined NHCC as a PSEO student, I had this mindset that I was just going to take classes and not get involved, because I didn't think I could get involved as a PSEO student. But Dave Mantini, the previous PTK advisor came up to me at my orientation session and said, ‘Even though you’re a PSEO student you can still join PTK’ and he really encouraged me to go out there and join the honors program and PTK.


Dr. Garcia was the one who suggested we reach out to you for your story. Were you in his class? 

Yes, I took his leadership seminar. It ended before spring break, but I did it because I joined the honors program. It was a really informational class and it was great to hear from Dr. Garcia. The whole class was focused on servant leadership. He taught us why this is an important leadership style and I really learned a lot. 


What would you tell high schoolers who are curious about doing college at the same time? 

I would say that they should do it! I mean, they don't really have anything to lose. The only real downside is that any class you take as a PSEO student permanently stays on your college transcript. But you can choose your classes, your schedule, how many credits you take, you’re in control, you're not expected to go to school every day and you have a lot of freedom. I think that helps a lot and all in all, PSEO is free college, so who wouldn’t want to do that? 


Are classes intimidating/more vigorous than high school? How’d you know you were ready? 

I did honors and AP classes in high school and stuff. I would say that that prepares you for college. But I mean, I’d say those classes are relatively the same level of difficulty, if not easier. It just really depends; if you take science classes, that's obviously going to be a lot harder than a communications class. I would say the science classes here, they have definitely been difficult for me, but other general classes, like college algebra have been relatively easy I'd say. 


What are your plans for this fall and where do you think you’ll go if you transfer? 

I applied to Augsburg University and the University of Minnesota. I'm leaning more towards going the U of MN I think, although Augsburg does have a PA program, too. But I just like the environment at the U of MN better and I like how many resources they have. So, I'll probably end up transferring there. I just like pushing through and getting things done early. 


Are you involved in any other extracurriculars at NHCC besides PTK? 

I joined the biomedical science club, but I haven't been able to attend many meetings, because I'm an officer in PTK and I'm the vice president of communications. Within this PTK role, I’ve been working on lots of projects, like editing the PTK page on our website, for example! 


How many other PTK officers are there with you and who is the PTK president? 

There’s the PTK president, two other girls with me and a guy. All of us are graduating this spring, so we’re going to get a whole new set of officers, but I think those spots are taken now and people have already applied for them. There’s a whole new group coming! Our PTK president is Hozea Kariuki. She is an environmental engineering student and is such a good PTK president. At NHCC, she has been involved in so many things on campus and she's the best! Hozea is also planning on going to the U of MN, but she'll be in the engineering school there and I’ll be in the biology school. Most of the PTK officers are either transferring to the U of MN, or St. Cloud State. I’d say it’s a split between those two schools.


Do you want to add any other advice about transitioning from high school to college? Is it manageable? 
I feel like it really depends on like a lot of people’s schedules, because if you were a part-time PSEO student, you’d not only have to worry about high school, but you’d have college classes as well. If you were going back and forth between those two, you’d really have to manage your schedule well. (Especially if you’re involved in extracurriculars at your high school). Then that's another variable to consider. For me, personally, I'm not really involved at my high school, I’m more involved here at North Hennepin. So, I can't really say much on that. It all really depends on balancing your schedule and if you're also working as well. There's a lot of different variables to consider. 


How do you stay so organized? 

Planners, to-do lists, Excel sheets, all those things! I have an Excel sheet where I made a core schedule and I added all my assignments and due dates and stuff. I haven't been on top of that as much as I’d like recently, but I've been trying to stay as organized as possible in other ways. 


What have you and the other PTK officers been up to recently? 

Last week, at the end of March we went to a two-day regional honors institute and celebration meeting at Riverland College in Austin, Minnesota. Austin is where Spam originated and we randomly went to the Spam Museum after our meeting while we were down there. In April, we'll be going to PTK Catalyst, which is a four-day international PTK meeting that’s being hosted in Orlando, Florida. I’m going with Azah, Jacki, Hozea and Deane, our PTK advisor. Catalyst is a workshop-type-of-meeting, where we’ll get to meet people from all over the globe, hear inspirational speakers and have opportunities for personal and professional development. I haven't been to a catalyst meeting before, since this is my first year as a PTK officer, but I’m really excited! The famous ballet dancer, Misty Copeland will be there to speak and so will Evy Poumpouras, former Secret Service Special Agent. I'm so excited for Catalyst! That’s the thing I was really looking forward to about joining PTK, the traveling opportunities they can offer you. That was the main reason why I became an officer, but also because of the scholarships, as well.


You won a 2024 Coca-Cola PTK Academic Team Silver scholarship! How’d you decide to enter?

When I first joined PTK, I wanted to experience the traveling and scholarship opportunities. I found out later during the application season that I could apply, as I was actively involved in my chapter as the VP of Communications. I was able to fill out the essay questionnaire thanks to my involvement, and it pushed me to start my passion project as the application required it which became an honors capstone project (currently still working on it)! I saw the different competitive scholarships I could win, and I would say that it’s better to try then to not.


What did it feel like to receive the scholarship?

I was ecstatic! I was really hoping to win a scholarship from the PTK application, and I did! It feels so rewarding to have my hard work be recognized through these academic teams. 
Of course, I always strive to do better and to push myself. So, I would say this is a steppingstone to greater achievements in the future.


How will this scholarship help you?

This scholarship will help me with paying off my tuition for when I go to a four-year university. Every scholarship counts and fortunately, I was able to save money during these 1 to 1 ½ years of college from being at NHCC as a PSEO student!


What has it meant to you to be a part of PTK at NHCC?

PTK has made a huge difference in my experience at NHCC. I’ve been able to travel, receive scholarships, assist in college projects and meet so many new people! PTK has allowed me to make so many connections with other students and staff at NHCC! In general, North Hennepin has been such a good school for me. Compared to what I’ve heard from other schools, North Hennepin makes the transition from high school to PSEO easier and more seamless. I just really like North Hennepin and that's the final takeaway that I have! 


Congratulations on your many achievements, Emily! We wish you all the best in your future college endeavors and beyond! 

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