Sitting in the orthodontist waiting room at age 14, Evan Lu ’22 was ecstatic. Today was the day his braces, after four long years, would come off, and he couldn’t wait to see the perfect smile his orthodontist had created. When he looked in the mirror for the first time, he immediately knew he wanted to give others that same indescribable feeling.
Today, at Texas A&M University, Lu is still working toward his dream of becoming an orthodontist. After years of financial stress and academic pressure, his vigorous work ethic and determination paid off when he received an Endowed Opportunity Award funded by the Class of 1953, which is helping his education by eliminating monetary burdens.
Lu had a difficult life growing up. While his parents worked tirelessly to provide for him and his brother, Eric, their Vietnamese-speaking grandmother raised them. Lu entered kindergarten not knowing a single word of English, and because of this language barrier, he faced countless adversaries and setbacks. To learn English faster, he and his brother devoured every book they could get their hands on. “Learning English as a second language was the first barrier I overcame that propelled me to excel in school,” he explained.
His parents believed giving their children a good education was essential, so they enrolled the boys in private school. The Lu brothers worked fervidly to secure spots in the top two of their class each year to lower the cost of admission, and this created an admirable work ethic that made Lu an attractive college applicant.
For the entirety of his high school senior year, he applied for various scholarships to offset the cost of college tuition. Lu eventually received the Class of 1953’s Endowed Opportunity Award, which greatly eased his financial burden. “Receiving this scholarship showed me that there are generous people who care about future generations of students and their success,” he said, beaming. “It opened doors that were closed off from me for so long.”
Excitement flooded Lu after reading his Texas A&M acceptance letter. He was intrigued by the Aggie Network, its legacy of helping graduates find jobs and the rigorous curriculum that prepares students for pre-professional paths—something he prepared for his entire childhood. “I am truly grateful to the generous donors that supported me and numerous other students,” he emphasized. With the stress of financial burdens lifted, Lu can finally focus on his journey toward dentistry.
As a first-generation student, he was nervous to start school but relied on his brother and new friends to advise and guide him. The friends he’s made and the classes he’s taken have taught him crucial life lessons he wouldn’t have learned otherwise.