March 22, 2017 12:00 am

Nhan Ta, an international student from Vietnam, began learning English in Kindergarten and has attended English-speaking schools for gifted students ever since. Ta, 18, will receive his high school diploma and associate of arts degree simultaneously at the end of spring quarter.

For as long as he could remember, his biggest goal growing up was to study in America. But after arriving in Washington state, he soon realized the transition would not be easy. The culture shock was intense, but those difficult early days inspired him to take action. Rather than wallowing in his frustrations, Ta joined a number of clubs on campus. He has worked as an outreach chair and ambassador for American Honors at Pierce College, and also served as the Diversity and Equity Coordinator for the Puyallup Office of Student Life.

Ta also founded the International Club as a way to support and help students from other countries adapt and transition to American life. “Every student goes through some kind of culture shock as they go to college for the first time,” he said. “I wanted to start the club as a way to help all students feel included.”

The club also serves as a chance for domestic and international students to learn how to better communicate with each other. Ta’s goal for the club is to provide international students have an opportunity to share information about their home countries, and for American students to learn about the world, as well.

Ta plans to continue his education in the United States, with the ultimate goal to pursue an international business degree at the University of California at Berkeley.

Students who comprise the All Washington Academic Team reflect the diversity of the state, maintain high standards of excellence and contribute positively to the community. Students will be honored for their achievements during a special ceremony on Thursday, March 23 at South Puget Sound Community College.