Westmont Magazine For Liberal Studies Graduate, It’s Elementary
Linda Ngo, one of the first recipients of the Young Life Urban Leadership Scholarship, graduated from Westmont as the top student in liberal studies for 2021. After serving as an intern at a Young Life camp in Santa Cruz this summer, the San Francisco resident plans to return to Westmont in the fall to earn a teaching credential and pursue a career teaching elementary school children in the Bay Area.
“Ever since I was little, I always knew I was going to work with kids,” she says. “I hope to go back home to teach in the public school system I attended and see where that takes me.”
Linda, who has many cousins in her family, has been babysitting since she was 8. She has grown particularly close to her 8-year-old cousin, Katherine, who lives in Washington. “As I see the impact I’ve made on her life, I have a passion to influence other children’s lives,” she says.
A daughter of immigrants, Linda was raised solely by her mother and benefitted from many wonderful teachers and role models throughout middle school and high school. “My upbringing was pretty difficult, so having these teachers be such amazing adult figures made up for what I lacked at home,” she says. “It makes me truly want to be that person for someone like me.”
Linda studied abroad during the fall of her sophomore year and chose to attend Westmont remotely both semesters of her senior year. “I’ve been slightly disconnected from Westmont,” she says. “But I’m thankful for the small education department since I’ve made many friends in my classes. Although I’m one of the few students who are remote, my classmates always greet me with joy and welcome me through Zoom, which I am tremendously thankful for.”
Linda has remained active with Young Life, which helped her acclimate to life in Santa Barbara her first year. “I struggled with feeling welcomed and a part of the community with the move,” she says. “I truly experienced culture shock. It was a great experience to be a part of Young Life in Santa Barbara, a new but familiar community at Westmont,” she says. Following her first year at Westmont, she served on a summer missions trip to Baja California with Young Life in San Francisco, visited an orphanage, delivered food to slum areas of Mexico and built a house they later painted and landscaped. Last fall, since she was studying at home, she worked for Young Life in San Francisco, reaching out to high school students in the midst of the pandemic.
Linda also volunteered as a tax preparer this season, serving low-income families in the Mission District. “This was such a great experience, although I don’t see myself going into finance,” she says.
“I gained life skills while helping a predominantly Hispanic community. It was cool to see how I could work through the language barrier and still assist these families.”
Linda had not traveled outside North America before she participated in the Westmont in Asia semester. “It was life-changing,” she says. “I’m so thankful for this experience; it was the first time I felt like a part of a community with Westmont. I came out of the program with experiences that will last a lifetime and friends I know will be my friends well after college.”
Linda’s Westmont education has broadened her perspectives. “Many of my classes have helped me take a holistic approach when facing different problems and learning new topics,” she says. “I’ve also learned more about how my faith can play a role in my everyday life and that all aspects of my life can be geared toward working for the kingdom.”
The Young Life Urban Leadership Scholars Program selects two emerging leaders per year from urban centers in California to attend Westmont on scholarships that cover tuition and room and board expenses for four years. The scholarships provide access to an excellent Christian liberal arts education and launch graduates back into their home communities equipped to lead and make a difference in a metropolitan area.
“This program was really important for someone like me, coming from an immigrant family, living my whole life with my mom, who cared for us while living paycheck to paycheck,” Linda says. “My senior year of high school was so difficult. Although I had been accepted to most of the 13 schools I applied to, I thought I would have to go to a community city college because of my finances. When I got the Westmont scholarship, I saw God providing for me and realized he does have everything under control.”