Nixed study abroad plan leads to once-in-a-lifetime teaching experience

Nhi Chau (center) with her fellow Terry Foundation Scholars in ASSC. Photo courtesy Nhi Chau.
TWU mathematics education student Nhi Chau (center) with her fellow Terry Foundation Scholars in ASSC. Photo courtesy Nhi Chau.

Sept. 22, 2020—DENTON—Texas Woman’s University mathematics education student and Terry Foundation Scholar Nhi Chau planned to study abroad at the University of Auckland in New Zealand this semester, followed by a trip to visit family in Vietnam over winter break. When the pandemic hit, she was forced to cancel her much-anticipated journey.

Nhi Chau headshot

In addition to canceling her trip, Chau forfeited her scholarship awards. She had been selected as a recipient of the highly competitive U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship as well as Terry Scholar travel funding, but her revised graduation schedule rendered her ineligible for a future trip.

“I declined the award knowing that another candidate would have the opportunity to use the award better than I could at this time,” said Chau, who instead decided to begin student teaching during the fall semester.

Training for a career in education during a global pandemic has presented a number of unique challenges. “It is very interesting, to say the least,” said Chau. “My cooperating teacher and I have tried new things every day and keep adjusting our lessons to create the best learning experience for our students. This experience has encouraged me to strengthen many traits that are essential to being an educator such as being flexible, being intentional with instruction and interactions, and being understanding of the students' experience during such a strange time.”

Be kind and patient with yourself during this time. No matter what your best looks like every day, it is enough.” Nhi Chau, TWU mathematics education major

Chau is putting the knowledge and skills gained during her time at TWU into practice while adding new information gleaned from experienced teachers and staff development days. Her passion for teaching despite the odds is the product of her experience as a recipient of her own instructors’ mentorship and support.

Nhi Chau in a field of purple flowers

“High school was the most difficult time of my life, and my teachers supported me through it all. I moved to the U.S. from Vietnam in my sophomore year of high school. I struggled with family issues, transitioning to my new life in the U.S., and mental health issues,” said Chau. “My teachers believed in me and loved me when I did not know how to do that myself. That was how my interest in teaching was sparked. Now I’ve had the opportunity to go to college and meet many more wonderful educators who have helped me nurture my teaching passion.”

Chau’s history of resilience in the face of adversity is admirable and inspirational, and she looks forward to passing on these lessons of resilience to her future students. After her December 2020 graduation, she will begin a math teaching position at Little Elm High School, where she will help students reach their fullest potential by preparing them for their next steps in life.

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Page last updated 11:44 AM, December 7, 2020