Steve Duong Success Story

Adult Education Program Specialist

"Strive to continuously reach your full potential...My journey at Mission came with struggle, but with support, I was able to overcome my obstacles. I went on to earn my B.A. in Sociology at San Jose...I have spent the last decade doing my best to help people reach their full potential by working in mental health, probation, and education."

Steve Duong and his mentor and former counselor Donnelle McGee.

From Student to Program Specialist

After struggling to graduate high school, I had no desire to go to college. My plan was to do anything that didn’t involve going back to school.

So, I spent my first year after high school continuing to work my job at the mall and almost getting sucked into a retail career.

I briefly pursued a career in real estate before figuring out it wasn’t for me. I even considered being a car salesman! Finally, I realized I needed to go back to school and enrolled at De Anza College.

Embarrassingly, in two quarters as a full-time student at DeAnza, I did not earn a single unit. I was not ready for college and again cared more about my social life and cutting class. At the time, I didn't even stop to think I was wasting my parent’s tuition money.

It wasn’t until I enrolled at Mission College in 2005, soon after my time at De Anza, that I began to succeed in school. I made an appointment to meet with a Counselor, Donnelle McGee.

A friend recommended I meet with Donnelle for counseling services. He thought that we could connect well because of our mutual love for sports. We immediately hit it off and established a strong bond that prevails today.

I remember a breakthrough appointment with Donnelle. I was talking to him about how I did not know what I wanted to do. He had me do a career assessment that revealed my number one career interest was to help people.

We identified Sociology as my major, and Donnelle developed a roadmap of what I needed to do to earn my Associate of Arts Degree to transfer to San Jose State. I finally found my purpose in school! 

My journey at Mission came with some struggle, but with support from the many services available, I was able to overcome my obstacles. For example, I failed statistics two times (was never a math guy) before passing it during the summer session with the help of the free tutoring I received on campus.  

I went on to earn my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology at San Jose in 2010. Since then, I have spent the last decade doing my best to help people reach their full potential in the community, working in mental health, probation, and education. 

Now, I've come full circle in my career and work here at Mission College. Ironically, I’m working in the same division and office as my former college counselor Donnelle McGee.

Today, I am doing exactly what I want to be doing, exactly where I want to be doing it. Inspired by how Donnelle made a difference in my college journey, I now have the opportunity to make the same difference with every student I work with. 

My message to students: Strive to continuously reach your full potential. You must first believe in yourself because no one else will if you don’t. This will give you the courage and confidence to pursue your goals. It will also give you the strength and resiliency to face obstacles that come your way during your journey.

A Fun Fact

While still a student at Mission College in 2007, I almost caught Barry Bonds record-breaking 756 home run ball that landed in my bleacher section and had a great shot at it! I ended up on ESPN Sportscenter highlights all night long that showed me in the scrum and high-fiving the guy who got the ball.