Growing up in Houston as the middle child of two Vietnamese refugees, I’ve come to
learn that family life is one of the most influential factors that has shaped me as a
person-for both the better and the worst.
When I was born, my dad was studying computer programming and had to leave
college in order to tend for me as well as my older sister. Residing in a crime-ridden
apartment complex located in Houston, activities such as leaving the house to ride my
bike or going for walks outside were foreign to me like the way America was foreign to
my parents. Despite the prison-like feel of the apartment, it served as a safe haven for
me. It had never crossed my mind that living in Houston was something scary for my
parents, not only because of the crime but also because of the language barrier that
existed and still exists today. Because of this, I grew up speaking Vietnamese at home,
and frustration was common because occasionally, I wouldn’t be able to get my feelings
across to my parents. My younger days consisted of staying at home, reading the same
few books I had over and over again, and watching PBS Kids with my sister. Little did I
know that soon my life would change drastically.
In the spring of 2005, my mom became pregnant with my younger brother, and we were
moving to a new house in a city that I’d have to learn to adapt to and love for what
would be the next eleven years of my life. The neighborhood was quite large, and the
neighbors were nothing but welcoming and friendly to my family and me. My younger
brother entered the world that autumn, and many aspects of my life were shifting right
before my eyes. For one thing, being the middle child made me feel quite lonely at
times, and jealousy burrowed its way into my heart. Although the attention was now
focused on my brother, I never lost sight of my hopes and dreams of doing something of
great value in this world. During this time, a sense of independence blossomed within
my character which has helped me in preparation for college. Going to school gave me
the opportunity to make new friends and step outside of my comfort zone. It was during
those initial years in primary school that my love for math and my passion for helping
others started to unfold.
My mom and dad have always been supportive of me. After leaving college for my birth,
my dad went back even though doing so was hard for him. As a new immigrant with an
accent so thick that one could slice through it with a knife, my dad often faced unwanted
judgement for ...