TRiO [has] helped me throughout my entire journey [at] Thomas Nelson... I really could not do it without their help.
When Luayo Chen immigrated to the United States from China, she was in search of success, independence and the opportunity to develop and express her own opinions. Thomas Nelson helped her achieve those goals.
The Computer Science major thrived at Thomas Nelson with academic success and participation in several campus organizations, including the Ballroom Dance Club and Phi Theta Kappa honor society, for which she served as the Phi Sigma chapter’s vice president. Chen also benefited from TRiO Student Support Services, a program that serves students who meet low-income requirements, are first-generation college students or have a disability. “TRiO [has] helped me throughout my entire journey [at] Thomas Nelson... I really could not do it without their help,” Chen said. She also served as a TRiO tutor and a student ambassador.
Chen attributes much of her success to the hands-on attention she received from Thomas Nelson professors like Mariko Shimizu, Dennis Feldman and Michael Weiser. They helped her with recommendation letters and encouraged her to succeed. “I could still recall that Mr. Weiser emailed me to congratulate me for being inducted into PTK after he saw my name on the new inductees [list]… I was not used to being honored for what I have done,” she said.
Chen was named to the 2017 Phi Theta Kappa All-Virginia Academic Team and honored for her academic achievement, leadership and service.
Her academic success also included participation in Bridges to the Baccalaureate Dream to Goal (DTG) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). A partnership between Thomas Nelson and VCU, the annual summer program aims to ease the transition from community college to four-year institutions for students planning careers in biomedical or behavioral sciences. DTG participants live on campus at VCU for eight weeks, receive a part-time wage and work alongside seasoned research faculty as they enjoy hands-on laboratory experience with research, data analysis and more. Chen is considering a career as a software engineer.
Currently, Chen is an Information Technology intern at Sentara in Virginia Beach and plans to volunteer at a local animal adoption center this summer. She will study Computer Science at the University of Virginia in the fall.