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'Pathways' Video: Judge Nguyen Cites Lessons in Family's Flight from Vietnam

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, whose family fled to America from South Vietnam, is the subject of a newly released edition of Pathways to the Bench, a U.S. Courts video series in which federal judges talk about challenges that helped prepare them to serve justice.

Appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 2012, Nguyen recalls profound life lessons from her parents. After the South Vietnamese government collapsed in 1975, the family lived in a tent city at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in California, and her parents took any job, however humble.

“One of the things that I learned when I was growing up was my parents’ tremendous work ethic, and their sense of humility, and their tremendous gratitude for the opportunities that this country offered,” Nguyen says. “And I always had a sense that it would be very wasteful not to reach out and take advantage of those opportunities.”

Nguyen also worked in private practice, and as an assistant U.S. Attorney and a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, before she was appointed a federal judge in the Central District of California, in 2009. She was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals three years later.

The series of Pathways to the Bench vignettes is available on the U.S. Courts Educational Resources page. While intended for all audiences, the Pathways videos especially can inspire high school students and youth groups to overcome obstacles on the way to achieving  dreams.

Related Topics: Judges & Judgeships, Public Education