Aaron Ong chose Texas Southmost College for its proximity to home and affordability, but what he got from the college was more than he ever expected. Today as an English tutor, he still calls TSC home even though his time as a student has passed.
Born in the Philippines, the 20-year-old moved to the United States with his family in 2007 and with English as a second language, Ong felt isolated most of the time.
“I knew a little English when we moved, but not enough to keep up with the other kids at school,” he said. “I felt out of place, like I didn’t belong. It took a couple of years for me to fully accept the transition and for my English to improve.”
Ong worked through the language barrier and by the time he was in high school he was ready to take the challenge of TSC’s Dual Enrollment program, completing numerous college courses.
As a first-generation college student, this was new territory for him and his family, but he knew the importance of a college education.
“TSC is set up to help students like me find success,” said Ong. “That’s why I decided to stay at TSC after high school. I knew I could get the same high-quality education here as I could anywhere, and what I received was so much more.”
It was about halfway through his journey at TSC that Ong got the opportunity to apply as a tutor with TSC’s Learning Labs and because of his helpful nature, he jumped at the chance.
“From a kid who could barely speak English to becoming an English tutor, I’ve come a long way,” he said. “I love having the chance to help others who are struggling and seeing that ‘ah-ha’ moment is the most rewarding. It is as a tutor where I discovered that my true calling is helping others.”
So even after completing his associate degree in General Studies at TSC, Ong has continued on in his tutoring position helping students with their Composition I and II courses.
And because he realized his passion for helping others, he went from a computer science to exercise science major at a local university.
“I’m not ready to stop tutoring just yet,” he said. “I’ve really connected with TSC and everyone there. I know this is where I belong until I realize my dream of becoming a physical therapist.”
Ong said growing up a small kid, he was motivated to exercise often with a goal of gaining muscle and remaining healthy; so as a physical therapist, he wants to do the same for others.
“I want to help people feel their best and find their health,” said Ong. “My goal is always to help others find confidence, whether that’s in their composition courses or through exercise.”
Ong’s ultimate goal is to enroll in a Doctor of Physical Therapy program in San Antonio or Houston and he knows the lessons he has learned at TSC will help him achieve his goal.
“Before any of this I was so shy. I would have never even thought about a career where I have to interact with people on a daily basis, but TSC allowed me to explore my career options,” he said. “TSC broke me out of my shell and with that I have gained new skills in areas such as leadership and communication, all skills I will need to better serve my future patients.”
To learn more about the tutoring services available at TSC’s Learning Labs, visit tsc.edu.
Registration for summer and fall 2021 is ongoing.
To register, visit tsc.edu/register.