By Liska Koenig
CHIEF COPY EDITOR
Steve Ngo is one of the newest members to join City College’s board of trustees.
The 32-year-old San Francisco lawyer is passionate about his office. “I chose City College because I wanted to work in an area of policy I felt personally attracted too,” Ngo said.
Ngo wants to give everybody a chance to get an education. “If you look at the bigger picture of educational justice and equity , there has been an achievement gap for decades. Access has been disproportionate by gender, skin color and sexual orientation,” he said.
“What most people don’t realize we are going to be looking at a major labor shortage because we are facing a ‘creeping crisis’ of the American job market,” Ngo said.
He emphasized upcoming generations are weaker in numbers and manufacturers will be forced to hire costly skilled workers from other countries. The “creeping crisis” in combination with the increased competition of the global market could undermine American growth and productivity, according to a study by Harvard economist David Ellwood in 2005.
A first generation Vietnamese-American, Ngo was born in Kentucky, grew up in Louisiana and moved to California to go to law school. His mother, who passed away in 2006, is his biggest inspiration.
She came here at a very young age as a refugee with a third grade Vietnamese elementary school education. By the age of 30 she had six children – which didn’t stop her from going to vocational school, opening a successful business and acquiring a home for her family.
“Nowhere but here is it possible to transform a life the way she did,” Ngo said. “Nowhere but here is it possible to transform a life the way she did. If I can just make one more person like my mother, then my service was worth it.”
Motivated by his mother’s life story, Ngo decided to campaign for the board of trustee position at City College a year after her death. “I don’t want to look back at my life when I’m old and regret I didn’t have a purpose in life,” he said.
The new trustee wants to shape the future of City College students with a focus on counseling, financial aid issues and returning students. The advancement of students in the HARTS, Guardian Scholarship and Second Chance programs have been created to support students who are battling homelessness, have been through the foster care system, or have been incarcerated.
“Every added year in college results in the direct increase of a person’s income (after school) and access to education gives people the tools to earn a living wage,” Ngo said.
“Career and technology program skills, like the automotive mechanics classes at the Evans campus, offer students who prefer to learn a hands-on trade to do so without having to pursue an academic education,” added Ngo.
Ngo wants to give interested students more opportunities to get to know the City College trustees. “I am hoping we can have forums and other mixing opportunities for students and board members, perhaps put short excerpts of meetings on YouTube or hold live chat sessions between students and trustees,” he said.