Equity and Graduation Rates in Higher Education

Meet international and comparative policy studies major Nguyễn Ngọc Yến Nhi.

September 22, 2022

Hometown: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Portland, Oregon

Thesis adviser: Paul Manson [political science]

Thesis: “The Impact of States’ Policy Choices on College Completion Rates in the United States”

What it’s about: What happened after college admissions? College enrollment rates are high in the U.S., yet many students do not finish their degree. My thesis explored the impact of states’ appropriations, citizens’ disposable income, and K–12 expenditures on college completion rates in the U.S. from 2001 to 2014.

What it’s really about: Inequitable access to higher education started early. Like, really early.

Influential class: Prof. Victoria Fortuna [dance] teaches me that I need to listen to how my body “thinks”—that even though I don’t consider myself a dancer, I’m dancing every day. I relied on methods from my dance ethnography class to write a political science thesis, which is the beauty of a Reed education.

Cool stuff: Transfer Student Group and Vietnamese Student Association. Socializing during a pandemic was awkward, yet we found ways to be in each other’s company.

Help along the way: I was able to go to college because of Reed’s generous financial aid package. I could not believe my eyes when I got the email. I am determined to pay it forward because I had folks who believe in me. The Ford Family Foundation helped me with room and board, a supportive community, and much-needed mental support.

Challenges faced: As a nontraditional transfer student, I was afraid that I would feel out of place. Ben Bradley (registrar’s office) helped me sort out my credits when I first transferred and became a friend. B Hunter (CLBR), the most supportive career advisor ever, connected me with Reed alums who helped kickstart my career in policy analysis.

How Reed changed me: Reed encouraged me to be more patient and comfortable with my own learning process and pushed me to become a better thinker, speaker, and writer. 

What’s next: I will be a policy analyst, working with the Oregon Center for Public Policy!