Vol. 40, No. 3
Revisiting the Bank of America Burning
UCSB Alumni Association Scholarship Fund’s First Recipients
UCSB’s Computer Security Group Addresses Internet Vulnerabilities
Greening the Chumash Nation With Bren Alum Josh Simmons
Athletics to Create a Walk of Champions
A Family of Gauchos: Duongs Can Boast About Six Alums
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A Family of Gauchos

Duong FamilyOn Dec. 8, 1977, Lau Duong packed his wife and six children into a secretly built boat filled with 60 other Vietnamese refugees and fled what had become the unified country of Vietnam. Using a French elementary school map as their only navigation tool, the refugees spent five days at sea before beaching the boat on the coast of Malaysia.

Twenty-two years later he would participate in an even more spectacular accomplishment. He watched with pride as the youngest child, Lien, became the sixth sibling to march through Commencement Green to receive her bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara.

In what has to be one of the most remarkable stories at UC Santa Barbara, Duong went from arriving in the U.S. with $16 in his pocket to having six children graduate from UCSB, including one who has gone on to become an attorney, one a doctor, one an accountant and one with an M.S. in chemical engineering.

All the while, Lau and his wife, Thau, have run an iconic business, Indo China Market, first in Isla Vista from 1981-84 and now in the Kmart shopping center on Hollister Avenue.

The six graduates include Yen, ’95 Economics; Nga, ’97 Art History; Ngan ’97 Art History; Xuan, ’97 Chemical Engineering; Quang, ’98, Pharmacology; and Lien, ’99 Law and Society.

Explained Lien, the youngest, who was only 6 days old when her father set sail from Vietnam in 1977, “We all chose UCSB for its reputation in the quality of the professors and the range of subject matter. As you can see from the degrees we have received, there is quite a variety. I think I can speak for all of my siblings when I say that our most memorable moments were the days we received our letters of acceptance from UCSB, and the days we walked across the stage to shake Chancellor Yang’s hand and receive our degrees.”

As for Lau, who told Coastlines that all of his children at one point worked in his market and even today stop by to help restock the shelves, it is quite an American story. “My original dream was just to be able to feed them,” Lau said of his amazing alumni clan. “But my dreams came true in a way that I never imagined.”

-- George Thurlow, executive director of the UCSB Alumni Association