SDUSD Stories: Lincoln High Graduates Diep Nguyen and Rawan Al Obaidi

Posted: Tuesday, June 20th 2017

Diep Nguyen (L) and Rawan Al Obaidi (R), two of Lincoln's impressive 2017 graduating class.

Lincoln High School’s Class of 2017 recently made headlines for their incredible accomplishments, including 27 students who earned the prestigious Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship from UC San Diego. Two of these exceptional seniors also shared their personal stories with us, and they are nothing short of inspiring.

Diep Nguyen arrived in San Diego from Vietnam in the 9th grade, speaking almost no English. Being the new kid at Lincoln, and as an English language learner, Diep faced many obstacles to succeeding in school. “At Lincoln, 9th grade, I started at the very beginning, basic class ESL, English for second language,” she recalls. 

Fast forward four years, and Diep is now the Valedictorian of her class, a proud Lincoln graduate, and on her way to UC San Diego this fall. Her academic success exceeded even her own expectations. “Starting from the bottom, I didn’t have any AP classes, stuff like that. But now, you know, becoming Valedictorian, I’m just surprised.” Diep also tutored students in her free time and passed both AB and BC Advanced Placement Calculus exams with 4’s – a huge accomplishment!

One of Diep’s graduating classmates, Rawan Al Obaidi, also faced a challenging academic journey rife with obstacles. Rawan, a Syrian refugee whose family previously escaped from war-torn Iraq, also came to Lincoln speaking very little English. “I [didn’t] find a lot of people who speak my language, so it was pretty hard to learn English,” she said. However, learning a new language was a welcome challenge for Rawan, who had already overcome much greater struggles just to make it to San Diego; one school she attended in the Middle East was actually bombed during the war.

Today, Rawan is an exceptional student headed to UC San Diego, having also earned the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship through her own hard work and persistence. Rawan, whose parents did not have the opportunity to attend college, is incredibly grateful for the opportunity ahead of her. “If I didn’t get this scholarship, I don’t think I would be able to go to college.”

Both Diep and Rawan are great examples of the perseverance and determination shared by hundreds of students at Lincoln and other San Diego schools. Lincoln teacher and college counselor Lyn Frankenberg, who had the chance to watch Diep and Rawan grow as students and young women, said their remarkable spirit is typical of the Lincoln student body. “These kids have an enormous amount of heart.”


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