Campus and Community


Do All, Be All

Point businesswoman helps nontraditional students through scholarship creation

Jeanne Nagle | Campus and Community | October 29, 2020 

Conventional wisdom holds that you can’t be all things to all people. On that point, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point MBA student and local small-business owner Quyen Hom begs to differ. She believes people should at least try to be “all the things”—but to satisfy themselves, not to appease other people.

“I think most people have dynamic skillsets that can be used in a variety of different fields of interest,” says Quyen. “Why limit yourself? Explore all of your curiosities, find out what your passions are … .”

So strongly does Quyen believe in trying new things and pursuing dreams that she named the UWSP scholarship she endows after her life philosophy. Established in 2017, the Be All the Things Scholarship began as an annual award to a nontraditional female student who delayed college enrollment until age 24 or older. Eligibility has since been extended to black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) students with demonstrated need as well.

“I believe that access to education is everything,” Quyen says. “There is a huge disparity between the haves and the have-nots in our country. I hope that, through our scholarship, we will be able to provide access to education while also helping to lessen the financial burden of students.”

Be All the Things honors Quyen’s mother, Thuy Luu, a refugee who, according to her daughter, was the very definition of a nontraditional student. At age 20, Thuy had been enrolled in college in her native Vietnam before moving to the United States in 1975 to escape the ravages of war.

“I can’t imagine leaving your home in a short amount of time to be relocated to a country of which you don’t know the language, and away from the majority of your family,” says Quyen. “She had to start all over.”

While simultaneously learning English and adapting to life in a new country, Thuy was able to complete her studies at Minnesota State University Moorhead, earning her undergraduate degree in five years. Quyen credits hard work and a desire to learn as the driving forces behind her mother’s accomplishments.

Thuy evidently passed her work ethic on to her daughter. In 2016, three years after moving from Minneapolis to Stevens Point, Quyen opened Assembly, a brick-and-mortar women’s clothing and accessories boutique located on Clark Street. She also owns and operates the photography and small-business branding entity, Quyen Hom Creative.

Supporting the Be All the Things scholarship is part of Quyen’s long-term business plan for Assembly. While a modicum of contributions from private donors is involved, primary funding for the scholarship currently comes through proceeds from the sale of specialty items created specifically for the boutique. The offerings change from year to year.

“We’ve partnered with different designers and manufacturers to produce these goods,” says Quyen. “It’s been so rewarding to make the process a collaborative partnership with many local contributors.”

One of those contributors, Ruby Coffee Roasters, recently offered to donate a percentage from sales of its Guatemala Porfiria Martinez blend to support the scholarship this year. Because of a temporary slump in 2020 sales, courtesy of COVID-19, “we truly weren’t sure how we would fund the scholarship,” Quyen says. “Ruby Roasters stepped in and came up with the idea of another collaboration, and we couldn’t turn it down.”

Two scholarships of $1,000 each are expected to be awarded in the 2020-21 academic year.

Coincidentally, Quyen herself could have been a candidate for a Be All the Things scholarship by virtue of her current standing as a nontraditional graduate student. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in applied business and communication from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Quyen decided to pursue an advanced degree by enrolling in UWSP’s MBA program, beginning with the Spring 2020 semester. She views this step as a way to help better her position as a businesswoman who can make a difference within her community.

“I had known other traditional MBA programs to be a stepping stone to obtaining some more credentials next to your name, to just move you up on the company ladder. But UWSP’s [program] is different,” says Quyen. “It focuses on students and their goals, and how they can make a lasting impact on the organizations they might be involved with in the future.”

Quyen found setting up the scholarship to be a pain-free experience. “I came up with the idea and reached out to multiple resources at UWSP,” she says. “The staff has made this process so easy, and they’ve been a great help in answering all my questions.”

She encourages anyone with “the means and the purpose” to consider creating a scholarship of their own. Drawing from her own experience, she also has a few words of encouragement for Be All the Things scholarship recipients and nontraditional students in general:

“The days may feel long, but you’ve come this far for a reason. Keep doing the hard work, and try and enjoy the ride.”

If you'd like to make a gift to the Be All the Things scholarship, click here, choose "other designation" and type in "Be All the Things Scholarship."


Ashlee Weidman contributed to this story.


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