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Good People, Good Work

Successful Refugees and Immigrants Leading the Way, Part 21 of a Multi-part Series: Tan Le – Technology Innovator & Entrepreneur

2022-03-07
Language:English
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Tan Le (Lê Thị Thái Tần) was born in Âu Lạc, also known as Vietnam, in 1977. It was a turbulent period in the country’s history, and the little girl’s parents decided that she and her sister would have a better future somewhere else. They migrated to Australia, where they overcame the challenges that refugees often face and started new lives. Ms. Le’s youthful enthusiasm for helping other refugees earned her public recognition that motivated her to pursue bigger dreams. She would eventually advance the practical application of neuroinformatics and be named one of Australia’s 30 most successful women under 30.

Ms. Le took her responsibility seriously. She enrolled in Monash University at 16 for a combined degree in law and commerce. Meanwhile, her mother had opened a beauty salon, and sometimes Ms. Le would help wash women’s hair. The customers were mostly migrants who were having trouble with domestic violence and adapting to their new country. The aspiring lawyer felt compelled to help them apply for government benefits and counseling programs. Ms. Le’s efforts over the years led to her becoming president of what is now called the Australian Vietnamese Services Resource Centre.

After reading about the history of Silicon Valley in the United States and its forward-looking companies, Ms. Le was inspired to become involved in technology. She strongly wanted to create something new that would impact people's lives. At 26, she decided to explore the connection between the brain and functions of the human body using electroencephalography (EEG).

When Ms. Le reflects on her life’s journey – from refugee to volunteer social worker, then from lawyer to high-tech visionary – she sees that each phase was a necessary steppingstone. Perhaps the bravery she inherited from her mother laid the foundation for her unstoppable success. Her experiences were sometimes painful but they taught her self-discipline and perseverance. She says she will always be grateful to Australia for giving her a new home and the chance to expand her horizons, to pursue opportunities she never would have had otherwise.
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