I was born in Tuy Phuoc, Binh Dinh, Vietnam. My father was a Sergeant for the South Vietnamese Army and served as an interpreter to the U.S. military advisors. At the end of the Vietnam War, my dad fled Vietnam by sea and was picked up by the Norwegian vessel "Tysla" in 1979.
I left Vietnam with my mother and brother in 1980. We were among nearly 1.6 million "boat people" who braved the South China Sea seeking better opportunities. We encountered dehydration, starvation, and roaring seas during the five days journey. We eventually reached the then-British Crown Colony of Hong Kong and stayed in a refugee camp before resettling in the U.S. in 1981 with my father. As I grew up, I learned I have a sister who stayed back in Vietnam because the boat was overcrowded. The family was reunited with the sister after 12 years.
My parents worked very hard to raise the family. I was asleep when dad left in the morning and had already gone to bed by the times dad got home. I was raised in Fairfax County, Virginia and have been a residence for over 36 years. I attended Bailey's Elementary School, Glasgow Middle School, and then Falls Church High School.
I earned a Bachelor's in Liberal Arts from Regents College, now known as Excelsior College, in New York after having transferred from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 1999. I hold an MBA in E-Business & Technology in 2003 from Columbia Southern University, Alabama. In 2010, I graduated summa cum laude from California Southern University with a Doctor of Science in Management of Engineering and Technology. Subsequently, through validation, I was conferred a dual Ph.D. in Management with a technology emphasis from the Universidad Central de Nicaragua and the Universidad Azteca in 2013. It was my mother's aspiration for me to attain a doctoral degree and for that reason, my pursuit was to fulfill a personal ambition.