When I was 9-years old, a U.S. Marine carried me off the tarmac in San Francisco and ushered me into my new homeland. He was the first American I ever met.
It was 1975, and I couldn’t thank him because I didn’t speak a word of English. Several months earlier, my dad had dropped my three siblings and me off at an orphanage in Saigon just before the city fell. None of us knew if we’d ever see each other again. I didn’t know it then, but my father’s selfless act of love gave us all a shot at freedom and a better life.
Miraculously, my parents were able to escape our war-torn country, and my family was reunited in rural Oregon later that year. We became farmworkers, picking berries alongside hundreds of other migrant families. A bus would pick us up in town early each morning to bring us to the fields, then drop us back off at night, tired, sore, and covered in dirt. To make ends meet, my parents rented out our only bedroom to a stranger, while the rest of us crammed into our living room and kitchen.
We were poor, but safe, and with the help of some government food assistance, a public school, and kind neighbors, we forged ahead.
Balancing work and school was difficult, but with the support of my family and community I was able to get the grades to be admitted to Harvard. There I cleaned bathrooms as a janitor, working my way through school with the help of Pell Grants and scholarships.
Next came the Dartmouth-Brown joint Medical School program, financed again with the help of scholarships, student loans, and federal grants. I finished my residency in Pediatrics at UCLA, and settled in Orange County, where I have been caring for the children of working families for the past twenty five years.
I overcame pretty long odds because America never turned her back on me, and feel privileged to have the opportunity to give back and serve my community as a pediatrician.
In addition to my career in medicine, I’m also a two-time breast cancer survivor, and was blessed to become a mother in my forties. Thankfully, I had reliable health insurance that I could afford, or neither would have been possible.
I would not be where I am today without the love and support of my family, but also the open arms of a country which accepted me as a refugee, helped me get an education, and set me up with a shot at the American Dream. Now, I’m looking on in horror as the very pillars of that dream are eroding around us. That’s why I look on in horror as the very pillars of that dream erode around us. I’m running for Congress to fight for the ideal this country has always represented to me, and to make sure stories like mine remain possible.
But I can’t do it alone! The only way to keep the American dream alive is for us to stand together for the values we cherish. I need your support to help flip the 39th district blue and take back the house.