Julie Vu, Program Specialist, Welcome Center
"I graduated from San Jose State University with a B.A. and started working at the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Six months later, I accepted a job at Mission College, where I have the opportunity to interact and connect with students who come from diverse backgrounds. Students have shared with me their personal life and academic journey. I feel more connected and empathize with students because I was once in their shoes. What I have learned is that active listening, patience, and caring are key."
Juie Vu receives award.
Saigon in Wartime
I grew up in Saigon, Vietnam. My memories of my childhood were a painful experience
living through suffering, misery, and fear from the war at an early age. I was fortunate
to have a loving, supportive, close-knit family through this grim time, being the
youngest of ten children including seven brothers and two sisters.
My father was a military Secret Service agent for nine years for then Vietnamese President Diem Dinh Ngo. After the assassination of President Ngo in 1963, my father was promoted to Major and also appointed as District-Mayor for the city of Quan Cau Ngang in southern Vietnam.
My mother was a homemaker raising us ten children. At the end of the Vietnam War in April 1975, the Communists arrested my father and sent him to a prison compound for almost nine years. The Communist party then confiscated our property, took all our assets, and forced us to relocate to a hillside housing development.
Family Bonds Helped Me Overcome
The hardship was difficult for my mother who had to raise ten children alone while
our father was in prison. She also had to move us from our huge house to a village
house with all our possessions stripped away. I remember food rations and being hungry
while my older siblings labored in the coffee, tea and rice fields working for food.
Even though we were going through tough times, our family bond got closer due to our
strong belief in God and that nothing could break our family apart.
Kindergarten through high school was an emotionally tough time for me. My grandfathers and uncles from both sides of my family were killed by the Communist party because they held high positions in society that the Communists feared. I had anxiety and a challenging time communicating in school, but I overcame and graduated high school through the loving support of my family.
My father was an amazing man who unbelievably survived the nine years as a captive prisoner of war. He professed that his devotion to God and love for his family was what kept him alive. He was finally released and wasted no time escaping Vietnam to Indonesia to seek political asylum. Since my father was a Secret Service agent, a Major, and a District-Mayor, he had ties with the U.S. government, and our family was granted political asylum.
We finally came to the United States and settled in Santa Clara, and my father encouraged us to learn English, to continue our education and to work hard. I was 19 at the time and didn’t speak any English, so it was a struggle learning a new culture and language.
However, I could not believe all the career choices that were available. I am so grateful to be living in this wonderful country for the freedom that we have and all the educational opportunities.
Obstacles and Success in College
I graduated from San Jose State University with a B.A. and started working at the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Six months later, I accepted a job at Mission College, where I have the opportunity to interact and connect with students who come from diverse backgrounds.
Students have shared with me their personal life and academic journey. I feel more connected and empathize with students because I was once in their shoes. What I have learned is that active listening, patience, and caring are key.
Sometimes a nice gesture can change the life of a student. Each of us is unique and should continue to embrace that uniqueness. My parents raised me to be kind, giving and respectful, and to treat others the way you'd want to be treated. With a small role at Mission College, I feel rewarded in guiding and helping students to start their academic journey.
Mission College is an inclusive place that provides wonderful resources and a variety of programs to students, such as academic resources and counselors that were not available to me in my home country. We should take advantage of the opportunity to maximize these resources. I feel so blessed to be a part of this Mission College family.