The person who inspired Michelle is someone she has no memory of. She doesn’t often talk about the fact that her father passed away when she was only one and a half-years-old. “I don't remember him at all, but the stories I’ve heard about him are powerful and of course he passed on his genetics, so I'm half Vietnamese. Usually, I’d talk about my mother, because she raised me and my six siblings as a single mother and she was instrumental in shaping me. But I feel compelled to talk about my father, because of all his achievements, and his amazing spirit of generosity and empathy,” Michelle says.
Michelle’s father was born and raised in Vietnam. In 1950, as communism spread throughout the country, he left to get an education. Landing in France, he received a degree in mathematics, then went to Rome and became a priest. When he came to America, he went back to school for two more bachelor degrees in chemistry and physics, and a Ph.D. in chemistry. After that, her father took a job teaching at William and Mary College, before finally meeting Michelle’s mother.