California community college is helping me achieve my dreams – and it can help you too!

Kevin Dinh

by Kevin Dinh

AS a Vietnamese American, May is an important month for me. It is Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, a monthlong celebration where AANHPI communities come together to celebrate the diversity of cultures, breadth of achievements and contributions communities like mine have made in the U.S.

For many like me, May is a time to reflect on those who have come before me and paved the way for me to be where I am. While I am still a student pursuing my dreams, I am thankful and proud to be a student at Irvine Valley College because I know my local California community college will expand my future opportunities and help me get to where I want to be.

Growing up in a traditional Vietnamese household, the value and importance of family and community was part of my heritage. While I have a strong family support network I can rely on, life isn’t always easy. California community colleges provide students like me with equitable access to higher education, which is the first step to giving me the skills, knowledge, and qualifications to improve my life and the lives of my family.

As everyone knows, earning a higher education degree is vital to getting ahead, and while community college may not be the right choice for everyone, it is a great choice for many, including me.

For those who are still trying to figure out what they want to do or want to quickly move into a career, California community colleges offer more than 200 career training programs, making it possible for students to get a high-quality education and take the first step toward their dream careers. That includes jobs that require certifications or advance training, such as welding, firefighting, nursing, emergency medical services and others working on our front lines.

California community colleges provide a budget-friendly opportunity for students — of any age — to improve their job prospects, educating more than 2 million people a year. In fact, students who obtain a degree or certificate from a California community college nearly double their earnings within three years, providing the financial stability and security that changes lives.

For those whose plan is to graduate from a four-year university and beyond, California community colleges can be a stepping stone, providing a high quality general education before helping you transfer to the college of your choice through the Associate Degree for Transfer program. Some students can even stay at their California community college and earn their bachelor’s degree.

And best of all, most students qualify for financial aid, making their educational journey at California community college free. The first step is to apply for FAFSA by the September 2 deadline. Grants and scholarships are also available, as well as support services offered at every campus, which may help cover the cost of food, books and more.

As we celebrate those who have come before us and paved the way for us to achieve our dreams, now is the time to take action and enroll at your local California community college. I’m doing it and so can you. Learn more at

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Kevin Dinh is a 27-year-old Vietnamese American student at Irvine Valley College in Irvine, CA. He is a returning college student who is pursuing his passion – acting and video production – at his local California community college. He believes higher education is important and that community college provides an equitable, accessible and affordable way for students like him to gain the knowledge, skills and qualifications to obtain the career of his dreams.


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