Posted March 12, 2013

For biology senior, Carver Science Fair Scholarship made Temple a reality

Temple biology senior Hung Luong (right) listens as Franklin Learning Center students Jose Naylor (left) and Michael Young explain their project at the Carver Science Fair. Luong, a 2009 graduate of FLC, is the third recipient of the Temple University/George Washington Carver Science Fair Academic Tuition Scholarship.

Temple biology senior Hung Luong looked around the Student Pavilion yesterday at the hundreds of Philadelphia middle and high school students sitting with their projects during the 34th annual George Washington Carver Science Fair.

It was a familiar scene for Luong, who five years ago as an 11th grader at Philadelphia’s Franklin Learning Center was seated where they were, ready to explain his project to science fair judges, on whether putting an electric charge into soil would replace photosynthesis for plants.

“This is kind of nostalgic for me,” he said.

Luong was assisting at fair, which Temple has hosted for more than 30 years, because he is the third recipient of a Temple University/George Washington Carver Science Fair Academic Tuition Scholarship.

For the past 10 years, Temple has offered two scholarships to Carver Science Fair students who place first or second among the 11th grade fair participants. The annual $2,500 scholarships are renewable for a total of four years.

The Temple/Carver scholarships were established by the Carver Science Fair’s Co-founder, Director and Chairperson Thomas Anderson Jr., a former Temple associate vice president for community affairs who worked at the university for 31 years, and former Temple Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Timm Rinehart.

Luong was born in the Philippines, where his parents sought refuge after leaving Vietnam. They moved to Philadelphia when he was 15.

“My parents are not rich by any means,” he said. “We had two suitcases per person when we moved here.”

Luong’s interest in biology was sparked by a teacher while he was a 10th grader at Franklin Learning Center. “She made biology fun — that’s the reason I majored in biology at Temple,” he said.

But it was his 11th grade chemistry teacher who encouraged Luong to participate in the Carver Science Fair.

“My teacher wasn’t required to do that, she wasn’t told by the principal to do it; she did it because she believed in the value of the program,” he said. “It only takes one person at your school to encourage you to get involved with the science fair. I did it and I got hooked that first year.

Luong, whose 11th grade project won first place, was encouraged by Anderson to apply for the scholarship to Temple.

“I definitely wanted to come to Temple,” he said. “Temple is as Philadelphia as you can get.”

The Temple/Carver Science Fair scholarship helped make the decision possible.

“The scholarship has definitely been helpful,” said Luong, the first in his family to go to college. “I got accepted to Temple and Drexel University, and once I looked at tuition, the choice was pretty clear. I have a couple of other grants, so with this scholarship, my Temple tuition has been covered.”

Luong, who will begin dental school at Howard University next fall, said if he were still in the Philippines, he would not have the opportunity to attend college.

“There are no student grants, loans or scholarships for college in the Philippines,” he said. “It’s a great country, but if you’re poor, you’re poor. If you are rich, you can afford to go to college.

“I’m pretty lucky to be here at Temple, the experience has been great,” said Luong. “Temple has been all I expected from a university.”