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Washington Voices

North Central grad a family trailblazer

Lyn Do is a senior at North Central High School.
Lyn Do is a senior at North Central High School.

When Lyn Do, who graduates from North Central High School this spring, begins classes at Gonzaga University this fall, she will be the first person in her family to attend a four-year university.

So proud was her family of her acceptance at Gonzaga that her aunt took everyone – and it’s a large extended family – out to dinner to celebrate. Do, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees who met and married in Spokane, is very aware of her heritage and the expectations she carries, of being a role model and a trailblazer in her family.

“Yes, there is pressure,” she said, but after reflection added, “it is a mild pressure.” And it is one she is pleased and eager to carry, aware that education, good grades and family tradition are so important to her family. Besides, her younger sister Vi, 10, is watching.

Because she has passed five Advanced Placement exams, which qualify her for college credit, and is taking an additional four exams this spring, she will enter Gonzaga already well on her way toward her college degree. Still, she doesn’t consider herself naturally smart. “Even though I procrastinate often, I work hard,” she said.

Although born in Spokane, she grew up speaking Vietnamese at home, largely because her grandmother does not speak English well. Do heard stories from her grandmother of the difficulties the family experienced in their home country, being so hungry that they ate bugs, how they had to walk long distances each Sunday to attend their Catholic church.

Do visited Vietnam with her family when she was 8, and it gave her a great appreciation for her American life and a desire to help people. Maybe that’s why she plans to study civil engineering at Gonzaga – and perhaps later, architecture – and build sustainable buildings and participate in programs in Third World countries.

She has enjoyed an active – though focused-on-academics – high school life. A member of the National Honor Society, she will graduate fifth in her class of 300 students. She plays volleyball and tennis and is a member of Key Club, Pride Tribe (a group that motivates students to attend sports events) and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), an organization supporting goals of attending college and functioning at higher levels.

She also volunteers for the Red Cross and participates in Vietnamese language and reading classes at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.

Church life and tradition remain important to the family. Do said that on the anniversary of her grandfather’s death, the family attends church together and holds a dinner, prays at the cemetery and returns to pray again at home.

Do expressed surprise that she was selected by her high school to be recognized in The Spokesman-Review. “That is so typical of her,” said North Central counselor Lyndsey Anderson. “She is brilliant, friendly and warm, humble and unassuming. Just like her family, we are so very proud of her, too.