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The Voice of America (VOA)’s Vietnamese website recently ran an article onProf Dr Truong Nguyen Thanh, a lecturer at the University of Utah in the US, who has conducted many research projects and written hundreds of articles for leading scientific magazines.
Born into a poor family in the central province of Binh Dinh he followed his parents to Ho Chi Minh City at the age of eleven to earn money for his mother to bring up his eight brothers and sisters, as his father was a hemiplegic.
Everyday after school, he sold cigarettes in Go Vap Market from midday until late at night.
In 1975, when he was 15, his family moved again to Lai Thieu, 20 km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, and purchased a small piece of land and two buffaloes. He worked as a hired hand.
Although the hard work sapped his time and energy, Thanh managed to study well as his grandfather and father told him that was the shortest way to success.
He attended the national mathematics competition in 1979. One year later, after passing the entrance exam at Hanoi University of Science and Technology, he decided to start a new life in the US.
In his first year Thanh worked as an assistant for a professor in his laboratory, in return for a small amount of money and a chance to do some research. His tuition was paid with borrowed funds and government scholarships. After four years of study, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree, with a major in Chemistry and minors in mathematics, physics, information and technology, and statistics.
During his research, Thanh won a scholarship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Postdoctoral Fellowship. In 1992, he became an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah. One year later, he was recognized among young promising US scientists and received US$500,000 support for his research. He became a full professor in 2002.
Prof Thanh then returned to his homeland and established the Institute for Computational Science and Technology (ICST) in Ho Chi Minh City, where he now works as director. He has always encouraged Vietnamese students to study in the US and is directly involved in interviewing them. Since 2001, his institute has provided scholarships for 20 outstanding students.
Prof Thanh recalled that while working as a hired hand, he had thought of helping other people like him turn over a new leaf as he wished to do. He often told his students to do the same.
Knowing that ‘one swallow does not make summer,’ and that he is only a trailblazer, he has earnestly wished that his students would be successful in their career and helpful to others under difficult circumstances.
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