Christine Vo has seen the world, and she’s seen it from Spring Branch.
The Spring Woods High School senior and valedictorian credits her exposure to international relations to her participation in debate, where she is a three-time competitor on the national level.
“I want to help alleviate people out of poverty,” Vo said. “I’ve seen how disadvantaged our community is compared to others … I want to help people get an opportunity in life to help themselves.
“That interest has manifested itself from debate,” she said. “When I graduate (from college) I want to make change and help people.”
Vo, 18, grew up in Spring Branch ISD, and attended Terrace Elementary, Spring Oaks Middle School and Spring Woods High School. And while she’s on her way to the University of Texas at Austin to study international relations, she’s also rooted in the area.
“I love it here,” she said. “It’s a great community.”
Her parents came to Houston from Vietnam in the 1970s, part of the wave of Vietnamese immigrants known as “boat people” – refugees desperate to escape South Vietnam as the United States withdrew after a decade of war.
Vo said her parents made a life here, and perhaps she learned service from her mother, who works with a local non-profit helping Vietnamese immigrants get visas. Her father, with whom Vo shares a birthday, died just 10 days short of that birthday during her junior year.
“It’s been difficult but I’ve persevered,” said Vo. “Most of the stuff I do in school I do for him.”
Besides debate, Vo has participated in orchestra, playing cello for seven years, and helped out with several local political campaigns.
But its debate that’s really exposed her to a bigger world.
“Debate has opened my eyes to a lot of people,” she said. “I’ve met kids from across the country,” she said, students from all kinds of backgrounds. It’s that diversity, particularly economic diversity, that she hopes to tackle one day.
“I want to battle income inequality, either here or abroad,” said Vo.