When Tho Nguyen donated to the Campaign for Stanford Medicine she was told her name would appear on a wall at the new Stanford Hospital. Nguyen responded to this news with a request: Would it be possible for her parents' names take the place of hers on the wall?
"They taught me to always do the right thing," Nguyen said. "To stand up for what you believe in, to extend your hand to help others whenever you can. These are the biggest gifts I have received in life, and whatever honor I might have, I owe to my parents.”
Nguyen's request uncovered a story that spans generations and highlights the power, meaning and many forms of a gift. An article in Why Giving Matters from Stanford’s Medical Center Development explains.
Nguyen was only 10 when her family fled from North to South Vietnam. That year Nguyen became ill and — for the first time — she met and was cared for by a doctor.
The experience left a lasting impression on Nguyen and sparked her interest in medicine and medical research. Years later, after her family arrived in the United States, Nguyen and her husband helped guide their children through college and medical school.
“My parents taught me that there are three factors that help a person to become successful: hard work, intelligence, and good training. I have believed in these three factors my whole life, and taught my own children to hold the same values. And Stanford trained my son well,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen made an endowed gift to support medical research at the school and explained: "My goal in giving this gift to Stanford medical school is to begin to repay the kindness that was shown to me and to my family so many years ago when we arrived in the United States." Her donation was the last gift made to this campaign.
"I was a refugee and still live frugally," Nguyen said. "But, I believe in the importance of what my gift can accomplish, both at Stanford and for the world. Therefore, I am honored to gift it in my parents' names.”
Previously: Why this couple advocates for basic science research, When spinal cord injury therapy didn’t arrive, investor turned to medical philanthropy and Cancer survivor’s brother takes on “Death Ride” to benefit breast cancer research.
Photo of Nguyen family and Dean Lloyd Minor by Paul Keitz