Nhi Võ ’22: A Passion to Help Others

From understanding her past to helping others build a future

June 14, 2022

Nhi Võ ’22 came to Grinnell College as a QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship recipient with a drive to succeed and a calling to help others. Raised in Rockford, Illinois, Võ was drawn to study psychology and mental health. As a first-generation college student with complex life experiences, she wanted to learn about and understand resilience and recovery after trauma.

Võ appreciated the Grinnell psychology professors’ interdisciplinary approach, which fostered critical thinking skills and an understanding of how genetics, personality, family circumstances, public schools, and neighborhood resources (or lack thereof) can contribute to mental health. This approach helps equip psychology majors to succeed after graduation, whether in a career, graduate school, or eventually practicing in clinical settings, she says.

Self-compassion is so important, not just because it feels good to receive compassion, but also because it can actually help you achieve your goals.

Nhi Võ

Many of Võ’s classes were influential, but after taking Abnormal Psychology and Counseling Psychology, she saw a specific need in the community and beyond. Võ decided to work toward addressing the disparity of mental health services for people of color by developing a network of 501(c)(3) nonprofit mental health providers across the United States, focusing on serving Black and Asian American and Pacific Islander clients. This impressive undertaking and Võ’s work as a volunteer crisis counselor and student mentor at Grinnell highlight Võ’s extensive service to the community. After Grinnell, Võ plans to continue her education at Columbia University School of Social Work.

Professor Chris Ralston was particularly supportive and influential during Võ’s studies at Grinnell. He inspired Võ to redirect her focus to graduate studies and potentially a career in social work. Maureen Fitzgibbon at the Center for Careers, Life, and Service was also highly influential. As Fitzgibbon guided Võ through postgraduate planning, she encouraged Võ to consider options that not only fit her academic goals, but that also complemented Võ’s life situation and long-term goals. Grinnell’s individualized advising allows advisers to get to know students well and provide the personalized guidance they need to think deeply about postgraduate plans.

Nhi Vo poses in cap and gown near the Grinnell College sign, surrounded by greenery.
Nhi Võ celebrates her graduation from Grinnell College, anticipating further study at Columbia University.

When asked what advice she would give her pre-college self if time travel was possible, Võ says she would advise herself to focus on self-compassion, less self-induced pressure, and the benefits of doing less.

These valuable lessons and challenges, along with Võ’s hard work and service to the community, will take her far in life.

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