ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - The top three graduating seniors at St. Martin High School this year have more in common than just good grades. All three are first generation Americans, whose parents came from Vietnam. That's a first in the school's history.
From their earliest days, Thien-Trieu Nguyen, Christopher Bui, and Cynthia Nguyen were driven to succeed. There were bumps along the way, but they persevered.
"My parents always had this great work ethic. They worked hard for everything they had and that definitely motivated me and showed me what I should do in my life, too," Valedictorian Cynthia Nguyen said.
During graduation practice, the three reflected on the past, including Christopher Bui, the Salutatorian.
"I just wanted to make my parents proud and get through school with the best grades that I could," Bui said.
The achievement means a lot for all of them.
"It just allows me to show my achievement and be able to talk to everybody in the whole stadium and it's an honor," said Historian Thien-Trieu Nguyen.
Cynthia explained that their classmates helped them along the way.
"They too drove me; It was all a friendly competition and they made this journey really fun."
While all three of these high achieving graduates are certainly proud of their accomplishments, crediting their family and friends, perhaps even more proud are the school administrators and even the principal, Dina Holland.
"Well, I think it's very special for their parents. Especially since they are immigrants, their parents came from Vietnam, and so it speaks to their work ethics and their absolute understanding of what an education can do for you in America," Holland said.
Any regrets for the graduates? Perhaps just one for Christopher.
"Could have had a little bit more girls, but it was fun," he said with a smile.
There is yet another tie that binds these three students together. All will be attending college at the University of South Alabama in Mobile.