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  • Steve Nguyen, PhD

You Will Because You Can



This story is about a former classmate and the life-changing gift and words of encouragement she shared with me that forever changed my life.


More than 25 years ago, when I first decided to return to school for my master's in counseling psychology I was scared to death because everything seemed so huge and overwhelming. Because I graduated with a bachelor’s in philosophy, I had to go back to school and take a whole bunch of undergraduate psychology courses (5 or 6 classes which took a year to do). For me, this meant moving to a small town in east Texas and attending classes there before I could even try to apply for a Master’s program! 


“Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.” – Abraham Lincoln

Emotionally and socially, it was very hard because I didn’t know anyone there and I often felt very homesick.


While I was enrolled in one of those undergraduate psychology classes, I shared with a female classmate about how I was so scared if I had made the right choice, how I was unsure of my own abilities, and how far away it would be until I got my Master's degree.


She listened and smiled. Several weeks later she gave me a gift that I will always remember — a small framed photo of a woman flying toward a star with the words, "You Will Because You Can" written on it. She told me that she believed in me and that if and when I doubted myself to read those words and remind myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.


That framed artwork inspired me through all my undergraduate psychology courses. It motivated me to keep going and to complete my master's program. Finally, it propelled and energized me to finish my Ph.D. 


During those periods, every time I became scared or whenever doubt would start taking hold of me, I would look at that framed artwork and read those words out loud, "You Will Because You Can." To me, those five simple words are some of the greatest and most inspiring words I have ever read.


If you are reading this and you’re going through something similar, my hope is that you will find comfort and inspiration in this saying, "You Will Because You Can."


Written By: Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.

Organizational & Leadership Development Leader

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