Christopher Son has been chosen to participate as a “DREAM Scholar” at the upcoming Achieving the Dream (ATD) professional development conference. Son was one of only six students nationwide selected. He will present at the ATD conference later this month in San Francisco.
Son’s journey to academic success is remarkable. He’s the child of Vietnamese immigrants and a first generation college student. He’s a Communication Studies major, an officer in international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and a leader in the Scholar to Scholar Peer Mentoring Program. “If you would have asked me if this would have been possible I wouldn’t have believed it,” he said.
Nine years ago Son was a freshman at Syracuse’s Henninger High School. Halfway through his freshman year he quit going to class. Son kept leaving his home every morning and returning every afternoon so his parents would think he was attending school. He kept doing it for three years before finally telling his parents the truth. “I was immature. I had no interest in school. By that point I wasn’t doing anything. I was very unhealthy physically and mentally.”
Son had ballooned to 290 pounds and realized he needed to change his life. “Everything began with me getting back in shape. It took a long time but I got down to 180 pounds. Once I slimmed down I said, ‘Okay! What’s next?’”
Son’s next challenge was his mind. His first accomplishment was earning his GED. Next he wanted to break out of his shell. “I was shy and nervous. I felt the only way to overcome that was to go to college.”
Son came to OCC in time for the spring 2014 semester and knew he had a lot of work in front of him. “I was away from school for six years. I hadn’t read a book or done anything that involved school.”
During his first semester all of Son’s courses were developmental. He worked hard and performed well giving him the confidence to succeed. “I got a 4.0. It didn’t count in terms of getting credit but it counted for something. I felt good.”
Since that first semester Son has continued to grow as both a student and a person. His personal transformation on the OCC campus makes the College a place he will always call home. “I feel like I just started to be a part of something. I don’t want to leave. It’s more than amazing here. I’m grateful I came here and got to meet amazing professors.”