Friday, May 02, 2014

          Investing in Communities: Scholarship Helps 3L Chau Truong Realize Her Dream

          "Growing up, I thought I was one of the luckier ones. I made it. Not everyone did. I want to help by being a public defender, and if I can do that in my own community, I can pay it forward.” -- 3L Chau Truong.
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          3L Chau Truong studies at Philz Coffee.

          When Marvin Sussman ’50 came to UC Hastings in 1948, a fresh veteran of World War II, classes were held at a building on the corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister. “The campus was the corner bar,” Sussman recalls.

          It was a time of great promise, for the college, the country, and Sussman. After graduation, he finished his studies at UC Berkeley and then got a job practicing corporate law with a Wall Street firm. Decades later, he transitioned into trusts and estates, retiring just three years ago, at the age of 83.

          A longtime UC Hastings Foundation board member and now an honorary trustee, Sussman has always supported the college. In 2007, he increased his commitment, donating an IRA that funds the Marvin Sussman Scholarship Fund, to which his niece and nephew, Barbara O’Donnell and Donald Berhang, have also contributed. His family also funded the first UC Hastings seminar room and a study room in the library.

          Since then, Sussman’s gift has supported four students at UC Hastings, including 3L Chau Truong. Her parents emigrated from Vietnam and settled in Orange County, which has the largest concentration of Vietnamese Americans in the country.

          Truong’s family struggled to assimilate, as did others. “Growing up, I thought I was one of the luckier ones. I made it. Not everyone did. I want to help by being a public defender, and if I can do that in my own community, I can pay it forward.”

          Truong has already worked at the California Appellate Project and in the Alameda and Orange County public defender offices. She also completed externships with Justice Nathan Mihara ’75 of the Sixth District Court of Appeal and the Hall of Justice in Santa Clara County. She is finishing her education with a stint in the Criminal Practice Clinic. She has also served as an editor on two law journals and is active in diversity outreach efforts through the Vietnamese American Law Society and other groups.

          “I know what I’m getting into,” she says. “All my experiences here have confirmed my path. I appreciate that someone is investing in me and my community.”

          Sussman and Truong express the same appreciation for their legal training. “I really appreciate the education I received at UC Hastings, particularly from the 65 Club. It gave me the background to enjoy my legal practice for many years,” Sussman says. “I’m glad to know this scholarship helps those who might not otherwise be able to continue their legal education.”

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