Linh Nguyen overcomes language barrier, troubled start, respectively, to excel at school

Justice of the Peace Brad Burnett, right, presents Port Neches-Groves High School senior Linh Nguyen, third from left, with the Shining Star Award as director of student activities Jon Deckert and ESL specialist Lisa Seaux look on. (Mary Meaux/The News)

NEDERLAND (The News): — Two local high school seniors, one from Port Neches-Groves and one from Nederland, were recognized for their determination and success academically in a special ceremony Wednesday.

Justice of the Peace Pct. 7 Brad Burnett honored Linh Nguyen and Jakelin Manzo with the Shining Star Award, which is given each year to Mid County students that have overcome challenges and taken advantages of opportunities to shine through a major turnaround. Personnel from the schools nominate the recipients.

Linh Nguyen came to the United States from Vietnam in 2018 with her family when she was 15 years old and could only speak a few English words at that time, Jon Deckert, director of student activities at Port Neches-Groves High School, said in Burnett’s crowded courtroom.

“Despite having to overcome the language barrier that many students fail to overcome, Linh has met every challenge, specifically in upper-level math courses,” Deckert said. “As an administrator at PNGHS, I have been shocked at her success in these extremely difficult classes. She is currently a straight A student and exceeds expectations for any senior. In fact, if grades ended today, her lowest final grade would be 98. That is unheard of for a senior student. Furthermore, Linh is fluent in Vietnamese, English and is learning ASL (American Sign Language).”
Nguyen also works all day on Saturdays and Sundays at a Vietnamese market and gives the money to her parents, not as an obligation but because she believes it is the right thing to do.

ESL Specialist Lisa Seaux has worked closely with Nguyen, saying the student attended tutorials and asked for practice items she could do at home.

“In the beginning she could only communicate through Google translate,” Seaux said.

It was soon evident Nguyen was good in math.

Jessica Pardue, math instructor at the high school, was assigned a class in content mastery in which she used this class period to help Nguyen with her algebra as the student was also learning English.

Nguyen plans to attend Lamar University and major in marketing and business.

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