Homeless boy and a Harvard University degree
(VNF) - With a shrunken limb and the other hand having only two fingers, Son began the journey of a homeless child who could not read and write becoming a student at the world's most prestigious university.
Grow up in the park
I first met Tran Ton Trung Son in 2006 when he was in grade 7 in Tran Dai Nghia Secondary School in Ho Chi Minh city. My first impression of him is a very polite, quite person whose eyes are warm and intelligent. He seems had sense of humor too. I was very touched when hearing Tran Son, Trung Son’s father telling about dark days of the family.
Tran Ton Trung Son was born in 1992 to a poor family in Quang Tri province – the land suffering from Agent Orange during the 1960s and 1970s. Trung Son’s father was Vietnamese soldiers fighting in Laos.
On the day Trung Son was born, his family was very sad because of his shrunken and no-hand limb and the right hand having only two fingers. His parents were painful to know that this is a sequel of the war. It’s more painful to hear villagers talk about Son’s imperfections.
So, late at night, hugging his only 20-day old son, Trung Son’s parents swallowed tears in their heart, quietly boarded the train to the South with hope that the new land would have more opportunities to open up the future to their child.
Trung Son with his younger brother
For the first three years, Trung Son’s house was Tao Dan park and his bed was a mat. During day time, Son’s parents sent him to Hoa Binh village (Tu Du hospital) so that they could go to work as hired laborers. At night, the family slept in the park. Difficult situation couldn’t drown the couple’s dream of a day their child would be fully educated.
It was not until Son was 7 that his parents could afford to rent a small room. His education was also difficult because no school accepted a student with disabilities. However, the eyes full of pain and hope touched the Principal of Van Hanh Private School.
The school is 20 km away from home. Trung Son’s father had to find a new job near his school to pick him up. After school day, Son was transported to a teacher’s home which is 15 km away from school to learn to write. Everyday was the same, father and son just came back home at 9 pm.
The more mature, the more intelligent and energetic Son was. Aware of his parent’s great love, Son never wants to disappoint them. For many years, he always achieved excellent academic results
The person who makes Harvard professor burst into tears
10 years later, in 2016, I suddenly got a phone call from Tran Son.
“Trung Son graduated from Harvard University and became an IBM consultant,” he said, choking me.
During a reunion afterwards, Tran Son told, after 11th grade at Ho Chi Minh city Gifted High School, Son received scholarship for two year at Fairmont High School in the US. Son also participated in many volunteer activities in Africa, teaching poor children, raising funds to help the homeless.
Mr. Tran Son showed me a lot of things, including a letter of compliment from President Obama and Trung Son’s essays on his application to Harvard.
This is an English essay by an Agent Orange boy, titled “Looking at life through hands”.
The essay made Harvard University professor burst into tears before a little boy who had extraordinary strength. Accompanying with his academic achievements and outstanding performance in high school, in 2011, Son got admitted by Harvard University with a full scholarship in information technology.
Become an IBM consultant
In 2016, before graduating from Harvard University, Son submitted his application to IBM Corporation. Overcoming thousands of candidates, Son has been chosen to show his abilities. In 2 days, Son must demonstrate competence in front of 4 councils through presentations, qualification tests and other activities with rigorous requirements. Ultimately, Son is one of eight candidates accepted into the IBM Group as an adviser.
Son with his mother at IBM headquater in the US