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AAPI Student Spotlight: Young Spencer

May marks the celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month: a time to recognize and honor the contributions of the AAPI community. This May, WGU celebrates the story of Young Spencer.

Young is a graduate of WGU and a first-generation U.S. citizen. His journey to WGU exemplifies his perseverance in the face of obstacles. He shares that "the idea of going to college was just a distant dream. I always wanted to make my family proud and be the first to have a college education.

Unfortunately, life had other plans for me after high school, and I found myself having to work two full-time jobs just to make ends meet."

In the spring of 2020, after being laid off amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Young rekindled his dream of pursuing a degree. He adds, "One day, I met a woman who happened to be an accountant and had graduated with a master's in accounting from WGU. Hearing her story made me realize that I wasn't alone in my doubts, but that success was possible with hard work." Young wasted no time and applied to WGU, remarking, "I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes to finish my degree and get a secure job."

At first, Young worried about being a slow reader and his ability to succeed. He reflects, “But instead of filling myself with self-doubt, I decided to just put in twice as much effort and to seek out help whenever I needed it." He also learned to rely on WGU's student resources, adding that "the writing center and the ability to schedule one-on-one meetings with the professors at WGU made it possible for easily stressed-out students like me to feel that help is there if and when you need it."

Over time, Young found his footing as a student. He says, “It was a turning point for me as I realized that I was a decent reader and that I'm actually pretty good at studying. All I needed was some practice. I began to surpass my expectations and found talents that I never knew I had." In addition to academic success, Young found a wealth of cultural growth at WGU. He states, "Through cultural events and organizations, I was able to learn more about my culture and develop a deeper appreciation for the diversity of experiences shared within the Asian American community." 

Today, Young not only holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and accounting from WGU, but he also fell in love with the woman who encouraged him back in 2020 to pursue a degree in accounting. They plan to marry later this year.

The AAPI community has a rich history and culture that has greatly impacted the fields of science, art, literature, music, and sports. It's essential to elevate the voices and highlight the achievements of this community at WGU.

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