A Moxian Life: A Tale of Adversity and the Will to Succeed

By Mavis Chi, Staff Accountant

mavis chi article header imageI was an intern at MoxiWorks 10 months ago and recently became a full-time employee. I landed an internship here through a presentation that York Baur, the CEO, gave at my finance class at University of Washington Bothell. At the beginning of his presentation, I wasn’t interested in the real estate industry and hardly remember what was on the PowerPoint. My primary focus was York’s personality as a CEO; he was funny, friendly, and approachable. I thought it would be fun to work for a company that provides a relaxing and flexible environment, yet always encouraging its employees to take a step further.

So, I approached York at the end of his presentation and earned an internship with Moxi. Also, who doesn’t want to work for a company that has a motto “Get shit done,” right? But this isn’t one of the stories where I tell you how awesome it is to work at Moxi even though it is pretty awesome. This is my story of how I was a non-English speaking immigrant who became a first-generation college graduate and landed an entry level position as a Staff Accountant.

Do you remember the last time you achieved a long-term goal? Do you remember that incredible force that over-pumped your endorphins that made you jump up and down and shout out, “I did it?” Well, you may only see that reaction in a 21-year-old or younger, but you get my point. I had a similar feeling a month ago at my first college graduation. For some people, a bachelor’s degree may not be a phenomenal achievement but rather a necessity, an expectation because everything is planned for. For others, like me, achieving a bachelor’s degree is almost as hard as finding a needle in a haystack. It’s not because of the lack of intelligence but the lack of encouragement.

I was raised in a traditional Vietnamese culture, where boys are more valuable than girls. My mother was forced to quit school when she was 13 years old to get into the workforce – yes, child labor was not regulated in Vietnam – to help finance for my uncles/her brothers’ tuitions. All my older female’s cousins quit school after high school because they didn’t think they could make it through college. When I first came to the United States seven years ago, my primary drive was to get a college degree. A close relative told me that, “You hardly speak any English, it will be a waste of time and money trying to catch up with other people your age. I think you’d be better off marrying someone here, so you are taken care of.” As wrong as it sounded, he was right about my English ability. I pushed my goal aside and focused on improving my English. During that period, my “English instructors” were the customers that came into my cousin’s nail salon, movies with subtitles, newspapers; I even sacrificed my chances to make friends who are from my country so that I could practice English with the native speakers.

Six months later, I moved to Kentucky to stay with my brother hoping that he could help me get into a local community college. I was staying with my sister-in-law and her family at that time, they didn’t like the idea of me going to college because they wanted me to work for them in return for my free stay, and I couldn’t afford the tuition on my own. My brother doesn’t have a say in his immediate family, so I had to hold off my college again. After a few months of working 10 hours a day scrubbing people’s feet and other chores at my sister-in-law’s nails salon, I discovered the tuition reimbursement program at UPS from a regular customer at the salon. I applied and was hired as a warehouse loader working from 10pm to 3am (Mon – Fri) – it was the only shift that qualifies for tuition reimbursement program. With the benefits that I received from UPS, I finally applied to a few English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at a local community college.

Growing up in a city (Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam) makes it difficult for me to adapt to the country living, so I moved to Seattle once I completed my ESL classes. Seattle opened a new path for my education journey. I discovered a local college (Bellevue College) where it accepted my high school transcript from Vietnam and converted the classes into usable college credits. With the result from the assessment test, I only needed two more English classes to start taking courses for an Associate degree in Business Administration. Pell grant Financial Aids and scholarship helped me get through the AA’s program, but the living standard in Seattle prolonged the process. With the high cost of living, I couldn’t be a full-time student and worker, so I had to take one or two classes at a time in the first two years of college. After four years of on and off with courses, I finally finished my AA with a 3.79 GPA and applied to a business school at UW Bothell and got accepted. One and a half years later, I become the first generation in my family to graduate from college.

The feeling of an accomplishment that I described at the beginning isn’t just over-pumped endorphins. It is my pride for overcoming the discouragement and standing up for what I believe in. My story is only one of many stories where people encounter difficult obstacles that prevent them from achieving their dream, yet they conquer their hardships and punch the impossible in the face. One of my classmates that graduated with me was a lady who is 60+ years old, her story is that she had to push her education aside for her husband and children. Whenever in doubt, always remember: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

You are probably thinking why is this relevant to the blog? And why is this girl talking about herself? Because I’m a Moxian and we have a saying that goes, “What got you here won’t get you there.” At Moxi, everyone is always evolving and pushing themselves to go above and beyond to create better products to benefit our customers. This is who we are! We “get shit done!”

Interested in a career at Moxi? We’re hiring.

Posted on July 11, 2018 at 4:58 pm
Tam Nguyen | Category: Working at Moxi | Tagged , , , ,

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