Portrait in perseverance

Trang Bui, in glasses, on Northrop Mall in warm weather.

The aftermath of the Vietnam War took its toll on Trang Bui’s family. Her grandfather had been killed, and her grandmother immigrated to the United States, where she worked three jobs in order to earn enough to bring over her remaining family members.

Arriving at age 17, Bui spoke no English. And that was just the beginning. After high school she enrolled at a Twin Cities community and technical college, but family members suffered severe health and financial stresses that forced her to drop out.

She took a series of jobs, the last of which was as a technician in a nail salon. There, a customer encouraged her to go back to school. Studying at two more two-year schools, Bui discovered her aptitude for math and science and decided to pursue an electrical engineering career.

When she enrolled at the U of M’s College of Science and Engineering in 2013, she received a Boston Scientific Scholarship that allowed her to go to school full time and finish her degree. Last June she began work in that field, but not before marrying, and giving birth to her first child just two days before her last final exam.

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities