Education Startups
Due Quach Due Quach/Facebook

Philadelphia's Due Quach shares a moving narrative on the origins of her startup organization Calm Clarity Program.

January 11, 2016

Philly woman launches startup following traumatic Harvard experience

Due Quach, whose family escaped Vietnam by boat, is starting the Calm Clarity Program

Due Quach was an infant when her family escaped Vietnam by boat and eventually landed in Philadelphia, where her parents ran a takeout restaurant and she attended public school.

In her personal narrative, which she titled "Poor and traumatized at Harvard" and shared at Medium, Quach explained how her acceptance into the prestigious university became a trauma she’d endure beyond college.

“Getting into Harvard was like boarding a rocket ship out of the ghetto" - Due Quach, founder of the Calm Clarity Program.

Getting into Harvard was like boarding a rocket ship out of the ghetto,” she wrote, adding, “My zip code in Philadelphia had (and continues to have) one of the higher rates of crime, violence, poverty, and trauma scores in the city. In my hood, nearly half the kids drop out of high school, so it is seen as a triumph for a kid to go to community college.”

As Quach explained, her experience at Harvard was the opposite of her hopeful expectations.

“It didn’t take long for me to feel completely alienated by the ivory tower academic culture and the self-absorbed drive of my peers and my professors,” she wrote, a fact she attributes to her socioeconomic class and lack of coping support at the institution.

“Over the past 16 years since my graduation, the thought of going to any Harvard alumni function and attending a reunion consistently triggers in me a sense of discomfort and class anxiety.”

“Over the past 16 years since my graduation, the thought of going to any Harvard alumni function and attending a reunion consistently triggers in me a sense of discomfort and class anxiety.”

Quach has since received her MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and has launched a startup, the Calm Clarity Program, with a goal of helping students in similar situations – “to help more poor kids like me break through barriers.”

She wrote that her motivation for the essay was "to finally face my own fears of being looked down at and rejected for growing up poor and traumatized."

Read Due Quach's story and learn more about the Calm Clarity Program at Medium.