Natalie Ramsay

“My mother is one of the bravest people I know.” – LeeAnn Ramsay, Nominator

Natalie Phuong Chau Ramsay (née Chau Kim Phuong) was born in Rach Gia, Vietnam. Growing up during the Vietnam War she was fortunate to live in a relatively small town far south in Vietnam. However, after the war there was no escaping the hardships of living under a communist government. In 1978, when she was 18 she left Vietnam as one of the thousands of boat people. After spending several months in a refugee camp she eventually made her way to the United States. There she completed a degree in electrical engineering, and is now a software engineer in Northern Virginia. In 2016 she went to Vietnam for her first visit since leaving in 1978; her whole family traveled together to tour the country and see her hometown.

Natalie was nominated by her daughter LeeAnn Ramsay who was raised in suburban Virginia, USA. When LeeAnn was 18, she left to attend university in Montreal. She currently lives in France but considers Montreal home. She has always been passionate about music. LeeAnn nominated Natalie because…

“My mother is one of the bravest people I know. I could not imagine leaving behind friends and family with almost nothing for an uncertain future. Not only did she take this great leap of faith, but she made an amazing life for herself in a new country. A life I am so grateful she brought me into this world to share in.”-LeeAnn

“I was in a refugee camp for about 7 months… I was 18 then. I went to a career centre to pick up English. Of course, it’s a culture shock. I went on and I took 2 years of college…I decided to go for engineering. It was quite difficult because I was still trying to learn English at that time. But I did. It was really hard work. But I was determined to do that. So I did. I graduated from George Washington and I got a job as a software engineer.”Natalie

Aquil Virani on why he chose to CelebrateHer: Natalie made a bold decision as a young woman. Growing up in Rach Gia during the Vietnam War, she left her home country at 18, fleeing a communist government and the shadows of sexist marital expectations imposed by her traditional father. She was nominated by one of her daughters, LeeAnn, who told me, “My mom (Natalie) used to tell me to ‘find a man who will help with the laundry.’ I didn’t get it when I was younger, but I get it now.” When she finally arrived in the United States, she built a life for herself as an electrical engineer, eventually switching to software engineering in Northern Virginia. Some of Natalie’s sisters still live the reality she left behind. She’s filled with pride wearing her blazer and going to work, far from the rice paddies of Vietnam that she never chose.