Pauline Ho’s personal background is filled with educational challenges: she could be defined as an immigrant, an English Language learner, a member of a low-income family and a first-generation college student. Rather than be defined by these labels, Pauline has chosen to channel her background and experiences to shape her passion for being a scholar in the field of education.
Pauline was born and raised in a small town in Vietnam. Growing up in a rural area, she thought her life would be as ordinary as other young girls in the town – attending school, getting married and living a life as a stay-at-home mother. However, her life trajectory completely changed when her mom informed her about their migration to America. Her family has experienced various financial and personal challenges as they landed on America. She recalls that her family was in major debt even before they stepped on the plane. They needed to live in a living room where the family of four had to sleep on one bed. Soon after their arrival, her father went to another state for his first job in a small factory. It was not until several months later that their family reunited.
When Pauline arrived in America, she had only studied English for two hours. Not knowing English, she struggled with classes and was isolated from classmates. With dedication and perseverance, she developed a way to face her fear and struggles that is to challenge herself to achieve higher goals. When she struggled in a World History course, she challenged herself to take AP Government in her senior year. When she struggled to learn English in her freshman year, she challenged herself to become an academic tutor for English learners in her junior year. When she tried to learn English as a new language, she also became fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin, in addition to her native language, Vietnamese. With the encouragement and support of family and teachers, Pauline gained her admission to the University of California, Irvine.
As a member of a low-income family, Pauline proactively took steps to support herself by receiving various scholarships to fund her undergraduate study, both at the national and local levels. She was awarded the APIASF scholarships twice throughout her undergraduate career for her dedicate to academic success and community services.
Being the first person in her family to attend college, Pauline has experienced several personal challenges. The transition to college was difficult, especially given her strong drive to achieve and be a role model to the family and the community. As she tried to manage her financial situations, academic study, and her grandma’s Alzheimer’s disease, she has come to realize her limitations as an individual and learned to embrace her imperfection through a period of depression. With a quarter off from school, she found her passion in serving others by volunteering in a senior home, teaching English to minority language speakers. Moreover, she reflected on her dream which she once thought it was about what she can do. However, today, she deeply realized that it is not her who pursue any dream, but it is about responding to the purpose that God has prepared for her. It is more than what her abilities can do to make an impact. Pursuing a God-given dream is her key to success!
Pauline recently graduated from UC Irvine with a double major in Education Sciences and Social Policy & Public Service with cum laude. She has risen to achieve a variety of academic honors such as AERA 2017 Undergraduate Fellow, National Science Foundation GRFP Honorable Mention and UCI’s 2017 Chancellor’s Award of Distinction. In addition to her academic achievements, she has fulfilled a variety of leadership and research roles during her four years at UCI. She has been involved in three research labs, conducted four undergraduate research projects (two of these independently), presented at four symposiums, completed an honors thesis and co-founded two student organizations. In addition, she has been coaching several high school and college students through the college application process as well as serving as their personal mentor throughout their educational journey.
Pauline will be starting her doctoral degree in Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her research focuses on examining factors that influence underrepresented groups’ educational aspirations and persistence. She is dedicated to use her knowledge and research to fulfill her God-given dream: to encourage and support the next generations to dream big, soar like an eagle, and live life to the fullest.
Pauline owes her success to God, her family, the Los Angeles Kam Kwong Church family, her mentors, her friends and the communities she lived in. Without any of them, she won’t be who she is today.