Student Spotlight: Thao Griffith
Thao Griffith came to the U.S. at the age of 16 and with little knowledge of English.
The Vietnam native dreamed of being a nurse but knew her lack of a high school diploma would hold her back. Griffith discovered that she could earn her GED at College of DuPage and, through the Early Admissions program, began taking a few classes before turning 18. But it wasn’t easy.
“The GED program fit my situation perfectly,” she explained. “The Admissions office was very helpful in guiding me through the admission process, including the instructions to take the replacement tests. Finally, I was very eager to start my first semester at COD.
“I had a really hard time fitting in to the college environment, understanding the materials and preparing for my classes. The culture shock that I experienced made me feel that it was impossible to achieve my dream. There were times that I was disappointed in myself and wanted to drop out of college.”
But Griffith’s dream of becoming a nurse kept her going. She began taking easy classes first so she could adapt to the college environment and learn English by interacting more with others. Then she began taking harder classes that were prerequisites for the Nursing program. These required stronger English skills.
“Today, I still give a lot of my time for studying and practicing English,” she said. “It is amazing how much English and science knowledge I have learned at COD. However, it will never be enough. I am still learning and exploring about America and about my nursing career. Every day that I am still in school and pursuing my goal is a valuable learning time in my educational journey.”
Griffith also received the Bonnie M. Wheaton Scholarship while at COD. As a student who worked part-time while attending school full-time, Griffith was grateful that the scholarship, low tuition and financial aid helped her afford pursuing her dream.
“By awarding me the Honorable Bonnie M. Wheaton Scholarship, COD lightened my financial stresses, which allowed me to focus more on the most important aspect of my life – education,” she said. “This encouraged me to ‘climb harder on the ladder of success.’ Thank you to Mrs. Wheaton and everyone who helps to make the differences in my life.”
After graduating from COD, Griffith earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, the Honor Society of Nursing. In addition, as part of her honor Capstone project, she worked as a research assistant on the project, “Factors Related to Oral Feeding Progression in Premature Infants.” She was the first author for the project’s research poster that she presented at the Midwest Nursing Research Society Conference is also a co-author for the project’s manuscript that was published in the Advance Neonatal Care Journal.
Griffith then completed the BSN-Ph.D. program at UIC. Her dissertation research, “The Relationship between Duration of Tube Feeding and Oral Feeding Success in Preterm Infants,” was funded by five competitive research awards from the Midwest Nursing Research Society, National Association of Neonatal Nurses, Sigma Theta Tau International, the UIC Alpha Lambda Chapter, and the UIC College of Nursing.
She is now an assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, where she is teaching undergraduate nursing students and writing grant proposals to build her research program.
“I am passionate about the nursing profession and couldn’t be more excited to help shape the future of nursing and to ‘pay it forward.’”
Griffith knows her start at College of DuPage provided the background needed for her success.
“I could have finished my prerequisites at other colleges or universities, but I believe that COD is the best decision I have ever made in my educational journey,” she said. “The faculty and staff were amazing in helping me build a very solid foundation which plays a significant role in my accomplishments today!”
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