31 minutes | Feb 7, 2023

‘Escaping 1977 Vietnam: Finding a Place to Belong’ - S3: Episode 2 with Danny Nguyen (Part 1)


1977 — In a year remembered for the “Fall of Saigon,” and “Black April,” Danny Nguyen and his family were caught in the middle of a war-torn Vietnam. Call it courage or call it desperation — Danny’s parents wanted a better life for their five children, and if that meant sailing out into the dark, cold ocean to find it, then so be it. The VP of Administrative Services at Mission College you see today is in stark contrast to the four-year-old who’d just landed in America in 1977. As the saying goes, “sometimes you have to lose yourself to find who you are.” 

Episode Summary 

  • 02:48 - Danny reminisces about a recent family trip, a big hot tub, and one memorable family picture. 
  • 04:18 - Danny looks back on the state of Vietnam in 1977 and what urged his family to flee on a boat in the dark of night.
  • 06:24 - Danny reflects on his most vivid memories of leaving Vietnam, and how he rediscovered a part of himself when visiting Ho Chi Minh City in 2015. 
  • 10:37 - As a young kid in a new country, what was life like when Danny arrived in the U.S.?  
  • 12:28 - How has the theme of ‘belonging’ impacted Danny throughout his life? 
  • 16:32 - How did Danny balance holding onto his culture vs. assimilating to American culture? 
  • 20:14 - How did Danny go from despising academics to making it such an integral part of his life today? 
  • 23:25 - Danny shares how his decision to pursue academics was more of a journey than an epiphany — one that saw him rebel, pursue pharmacy, and so much more. 
  • 28:24 - Danny shares his appreciation for his music choir instructor from Sylvandale Middle School, who went the extra mile for him.  


Fall of Saigon

Mission College

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

District 11 

Finding His Place at Mission College

Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals 

Sylvandale Middle School 

Guest Information



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