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Son's Graduation Is Latest Proof For Vietnamese Family That Dreams Come True In America

May 7, 1999 -- Quan Vu's forthcoming graduation from the University of Virginia shows the importance of having dreams. His parents' dreams of a better life helped the family overcome severe difficulties in South Vietnam and gave them the courage to start anew in America.

In 1975, Quan's father, Ut Vu, a lieutenant colonel in the South Vietnamese Army, was imprisoned by the Communists. After three years, he was released, but soon was reimprisoned and forced to do hard labor in a concentration camp. In 1981, when Ut Vu was thought to be nearly dead -- exhausted by malaria, jaundice and malnutrition -- the Communists released him.

Lanh Vo, Quan's mother and a gynecologist, was unable to practice medicine while her husband was imprisoned because his name was on a government black list. During his six years of captivity, she and her two young sons lived with grandparents. Following her husband's release, Lanh Vo nursed him back to health and regained her employment. In 1993, after a 10-year legal battle, the family was allowed to leave Vietnam to reunite with relatives in America.

The move to America was hard for Quan and his brother Truong, who were 16 and 19 at the time, because they did not speak English. But they had motivation to learn. "My dad and mom inspired me. Their paths had failed so many times, yet they clung to their dreams. They gave me the inspiration to work harder," said Quan, noting that his parents now work as inventory clerks at a large retail store in Fairfax, Va.

Despite language, cultural barriers and tight finances, the boys thrived. Truong graduated from George Mason University in 1997.

A graduate of Fairfax High School, Quan will earn a B.S. in biochemistry from U.Va. on May 23 with an anticipated GPA of 3.8. Following graduation, he will take a major step toward fulfilling his dream of becoming a doctor; he has been accepted into U.Va.'s medical school.

During his years as an undergraduate, Quan realized another dream. Fearful that the language and culture of his native country was being lost, he volunteered to teach a Vietnamese language class at U.Va. Serving as a volunteer teaching assistant, Quan was pleased to see as

many as 40 students in the class. He has taught the class for the past three years and also served as president of the Vietnamese Students Association.

"Quan is an excellent student and a great role model for me and many other students at U.Va.," said fourth-year student Khang Duy Le. "Despite many barriers, he has come a long way."

Quan attributes the ability to realize his goals to the importance of having dreams. "Dreams give you the incentive to persevere. In America we've had the freedom to pursue our dreams and we've learned that with hard work, dreams come true."

For more information, contact Quan Vu at (804) 979-1444 or

Contact: Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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