SFU PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND MEDIA RELATIONS
Quyn Le sits with her dog Nugget at Simon Fraser University.
VANCOUVER — Quyn Le has moved past hardship, a lack of education and the disability of blindness to become a successful counsellor.
She arrived in Canada at the age of 14 with a Grade 2 education, having spent four years escaping the communist regime in Vietnam.
With a lot of persistence, support and prayer, she not only survived, but overcame these difficulties, obtaining a master's degree in counselling from Simon Fraser University.
"The Lord helps me choose good and supportive people," Le said humbly, being sure to point out it was the hard work of others that helped her. She graduated from SFU in the spring of 2010 and is now a grief counsellor at Lions Gate Hospital.
Along with her work at the hospital she has set up a private practice called Quyn Le Empowerment Counselling. Le believes the struggles she went through may have helped her take an empathetic approach as she focuses on counselling for issues of bereavement, culture, disability and relationship.
During her graduation several media outlets picked up Le's inspirational tale. While the articles detailed the struggles through a corrupt communist Vietnam and the four years in an Indonesian refugee camp, none highlighted the importance of faith in her life.
She said she believes it is no accident that a blind refugee with little education could obtain the success she has. "I believe my guardian angel protects me."
Le was converted to Catholicism through her mother at the age of 10. The family had practised Buddhism until her mother encountered Mary while a refugee in Indonesia.
"My mom saw a piece of paper fly into our barracks and land right under our feet," Le explained. "She picked it up and it was a picture of Mary."
Le's mother had no idea who the person in the picture was. However, Le praises God for surrounding the settlement with Catholics.
The Catholics explained the significance of Mary but none took ownership of the picture. The incident led Le, her mother, and her aunt to learn about the Catholic faith.
The three also were told of a statue of Our Lady situated between two of the refugee camps. Le and her family prayed by the statue regularly. They claim Mary's intercession helped them get through their four-year experience in Indonesia.
The time in the refugee camp was hard on the family. Le's father was arrested by the Vietnamese government for trying to escape and spent many months in jail. Upon the family's reunification he quickly converted to Catholicism.
After four years in Indonesia the Le family settled in Ontario. At the age of 14 Le was faced with possibly her greatest challenge, adjusting to the culture.
Despite her lack of English and education, with the help of her family and the Vietnamese priests, Le graduated from high school with honours.
"God helps those who help themselves," she said.