SeungChan An decided he would do what was necessary to pursue his dream of obtaining
a college education in the United States ... even if it meant dropping out of high
2015, Mr. An became the Hudson County Community College valedictorian,
graduating with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, and was awarded his
Associate of Science degree in Accounting. Because he had completed his HCCC
classes at the end of the 2014 Fall semester, he was already pursuing his
Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Economics at Rutgers University -
An was born in South Korea in 1993. His mother is the pastor of a church there,
and his father works in a local company, as does his sister (who is one year
older). Mr. An said he wasn’t particularly good at his studies in South Korea,
and the prospect of attaining a college education – especially completing one
in the United States – seemed an even more distant possibility because of the
expense it would cost his family.
So he came
to the conclusion that he would quit high school and work in South Korea to
earn the money necessary for pursuing an American higher education. For two
years, he worked ... and he studied for and earned his G.E.D.
arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport in 2013, and because his
English was so limited, the immigration officer threatened to send him back to
South Korea. Mr. An produced the paperwork which demonstrated that he came to
the U.S. with the intention of studying English at a New Jersey university.
After deciding that the university might not be a good fit for him, he performed
a Google search for area colleges that offered English as a Second Language
(ESL) programs, and decided to attend Hudson County Community College.
first started my ESL studies at Hudson County Community College, I had problems
reading and writing English,” Mr. An said. He determined that he was going to
work harder because he was afraid to fail, and visited the HCCC Center for
Academic & Student Success Tutorial Services Offices for assistance every
day. After completing the ESL and additional basic skills classes with passing
grades, he went on to complete all of his college-level courses with a perfect
4.0 grade point average.
received really great help from the HCCC Tutoring Center. I always went there
to have them check my writing and essay assignments,” Mr. An stated. “Hudson
County Community College made me work harder than I ever had at my academic
pursuits. They built my confidence.”
Mr. An has
his own place to live in East Newark, as he had not wanted to burden his uncle’s
family in Montclair. He has also been working at the HCCC Tutoring Center,
assisting students with accounting and math.
valedictory speech at the Hudson County Community College (HCCC) 37th
Annual Commencement ceremonies he talked about his HCCC classmates and not
himself. “I really look up to them. They work, take care of their families, go
to school. I am kind of blessed. I never imagined I would be the valedictorian,”
family did not come from South Korea for his graduation. When he told his
mother that he had been named valedictorian, she gave him the kind of advice
that made his dream a reality: “Work harder; don’t be satisfied.”