Kevin was born and raised in Chicago and his experience with CMAA goes way back to 2011 when he was a kindergartener in Co Sa’s class. He fit in easily because there were a bunch of kids his age and people who he could relate to. He had a lot of help, especially from Co Sa, who was his teacher and who he sees as a second mother. “In Vietnamese, ‘Co’ means aunt.
“She is truly an angel sent from heaven so I would like to personally thank her for teaching and helping me during my time at CMAA and that I hope she would do the same for future kids that come here.” says Kevin.
CMAA means so much to him because it feels like it’s a really close community, a second family, especially because almost all of his family members have previously attended. While his parents, who are immigrants from Vietnam, were at work, CMAA was where he spent his time. Since his dad works as a mechanic and his mom as a nail technician, they came home at late hours.
CMAA has given him a lot of opportunities such as coaching the lion dance program, which he was part of throughout middle school and is what he loves to do. It helped connect him with his culture and understand his roots. He is also a mentee in the Young Men Making Moves mentoring program, which helped him become a better person and taught him life skills and supported him during his transition to high school. Now, he is a sophomore at Lane Tech High School, one of the few selective enrollment schools in the city. CMAA helped him figure out the process for applying to selective enrollment schools. "I also want to thank Ngan, who I see as a guardian and an older sibling, for helping me prepare for the test as well as wanting me to excel in life." He said.
Currently, he coaches lion dance for the after-school students as well as serves as a paid intern at CMAA through the After School Matters program. CMAA has taught him leadership, discipline, community, and integrity. He said, “I hope to be able to major in engineering one day. That would be my dream and my parents’ dream that I’d be the first one in my immediate family to go to college.”