Many SDSU students have immigrated to the United States, but few have had to escape their homeland on a moonless night with bullets whizzing past them.
When Hoa Thanh “Jimmy” Truong’s (’99, information systems) family made the decision to escape Vietnam in 1985 it was so that Truong and his six siblings could have opportunities that they could never attain in their native country. “It was hard to live under the control of the communists,” said Truong. “My parents didn’t foresee a bright future for us, so we decided to leave Vietnam to look for freedom and a better life.”
Escape from Vietnam
At the age of 14, he, his parents, his siblings and a cousin joined 39 others on a wooden fishing boat that was waiting for them on a river in southern Vietnam. They covered themselves with coconut leaves and kept still. As they approached the South China Sea, they were discovered at a checkpoint by the Vietnamese Navy who attempted to stop them. Someone on the boat started the motor and the group was able to make their escape into international waters while outrunning gunshots and the patrol boat.
Eventually, the group made it to Indonesia where Truong’s family stayed for a year until a Vietnamese church in San Diego sponsored the family. In 1986, they moved to Southern California where most the family still reside today.
When Truong decided to fulfill his parent’s dreams of “a bright future”, he chose to come to San Diego State because “it is close to home,” he said. “Also, San Diego State is one of the top schools for business and that is the main reason I chose to attend SDSU.”
Since he liked working with computers, Truong majored in information systems: “It has a combination of classes that focus on technical fields, as well as on the business side. My two favorite classes were Information Systems Analysis (MIS 306) and Information Systems Technology (MIS 375). I enjoyed and learned a lot from those classes.”
Following graduation, Truong worked in a variety of IT positions within local and federal government agencies. While working at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California, he heard of an opening at the Air Forces Network (AFN) Broadcast Center located at March Air Force Base near Riverside, California. He applied and was offered a position there in 2007. He still works at the AFN Broadcast Center and lives in Menifee, California.
Living the Dream
Today, Truong enjoys the good life that his parents wanted for him. He owes part of his success to being able to attend the university of his choice and, with that in mind, he has some words of advice for today’s SDSU students: “While you are in college, aim as high as you can and make it work for you. Keep focusing on your goals and your dreams – never give up. The only thing that can hold you back is yourself.”