“English High School gave me an education that is lasting me a lifetime”

Dao Hoang Vo, EHS ‘86, says thank you—again!

(The following are highlights of a Boston Globe story which ran on page 1 in its Metro section on November 18, 1997. By Beth Daley, Globe Staff)

Dao Hoang Vo came to English High School in 1982 as a young, frightened Vietnamese refugee who spoke no English. Four years later he graduated second in his class. And now the 30-year-old computer consultant has chosen a dramatic way to say thank you for the education, opportunity and friendship the school staff gave him. Vo has pieced together, installed and networked more than 65 computers in the Jamaica Plain school. All the computers have Internet access and he’s busy trying to get each student an e-mail address. He’s often at the school more hours than he is at his job. What’s more, he’s done it all for free, just to say thank you. “English High School gave me an education that is lasting me a lifetime,” said Vo. “And this network I am helping with won’t last that long, it could be obsolete in three to four years. I see it as I’ve gotten a bargain.”

Vo came to Boston in 1982 at 15 after escaping from a village near the Cambodian border where his father was threatened by the government. Leaving their grandmother and all personal belongings behind, Vo, his four siblings and parents stole into a tiny fishing boat with 74 other people.

Four years later, he received a four-year scholarship to Boston University in engineering. Vo quit BU after two years because he hated engineering. But the college fueled his love of computers. For fun, he used to take the machines apart in his dorm room. In Chicago, at 22, he opened a successful computer sales company but decided to return to Boston to finish school. He recently graduated from Salem State College with a degree in business administration. Married two months ago, Vo and his wife, Trang, just got back from a Hawaiian honeymoon. Vo says it was Trang who urged him to look for a chance to give something back. Vo used to visit English High and offer technical help, but last year when the school was up for accreditation, he said he knew what he could do – network the school.

Twenty-four years later Vo still hasn’t forgotten his alma mater even though he now lives thousands of miles away on the west coast.

Vo and friends recently refurbished 12 computers and donated them to the English High Alumni Association, which will be offered to the school.

“I cannot thank Dao enough,” said Mike Thomas President of the EHSA. “His loyalty to the school and support for future English High graduates exemplifies the strong bond the school develops with its students.”