NGUYEN VO GIVES BACK
TO HONOR MOM
Lisa Mushett | December 12, 2017
“In whatever you do, you must do it with a servant’s heart.”
Nguyen Vo lives by these words every day and is finally making good on a promise he made to his mother eight years ago.
Growing up in the Frogtown area of St. Paul, Vo’s parents, who immigrated from Vietnam to the United States in 1975, worked long hours on the assembly line at Honeywell. Wanting to keep him and his two older siblings away from the bad influences in their low-income neighborhood, they introduced them to tennis.
“We had donated racquets, used balls and a rope,” Vo recalls. “In the driveway, my dad would hit with each of us while the other two would hold the rope and that was our net. We would also hit against the garage. I found out quickly that I would never beat the garage.”
When Vo and his siblings got older, they would go play at the local parks. ADVERTISEMENT It was at Como Park in St. Paul that they met USTA Northern Hall of Famer Ernie Greene, who would generously hit with the three of them, and from then on, tennis was Vo’s main sport.
After high school, the first generation American attended the University of Minnesota, graduating with degrees in political science and computer science. He entered the work force and stopped playing tennis for close to 15 years until his nephew wanted to try out for his high school team and asked Vo to give him lessons. Soon realizing tennis was his true passion, he quit his day job and started volunteering at InnerCity Tennis in Minneapolis. Later, he served as a head coach for the ICT summer parks program before being hired as a teaching pro at the Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center in the fall of 2010. He is now one of the best high performance teaching professionals in the Section and was just named the 2017 USTA Northern Frank Voigt Pro of the Year.
“I was so very fortunate along the way,” Vo said. “It has been the generosity of a lot of people – my coaches, parents and siblings – that allowed me to go to college and then turn my passion for tennis into a career. Now it is my turn to give back and honor my mother’s memory.”
To do that, Vo and his wife, Emi, have created the Nguyen Vo Family Scholarship, committing $5,000 over the next five years for three annual scholarships – two $250 awards for college application fees and one $500 general scholarship – for seniors participating in the Fred Wells education program to use at any post-secondary institution. They have also verbally committed to fund the scholarship for five additional years after that whether he works at Fred Wells or not.
“Talking to a lot of junior and senior players in our program, there was a common theme that high application fees were preventing them from applying to the colleges of their choice,” Vo said. “I wanted to make sure I could help them knock on the door so they could have the chance to eventually walk through that door.”
Reinforcing with all of his students that living a balanced life is much more important than anything one could do on the court, Vo is a visionary for others with his selflessness and his commitment to the kids at Fred Wells. Education always comes first. He also emphasizes the importance of community and giving back to others, just like others did for him along his journey, hoping to create a never-ending circle.
“I am extremely lucky to do what I do and have had some great mentors in my life. Now is my chance to give back and I am excited to see what opportunities these scholarships will provide the kids who come through the doors at The Fort.”
For more information about the Nguyen Vo Family Scholarship or to donate to the cause, please contact Vo at firstname.lastname@example.org.