On July 12, the India Community Center in Milpitas was the location for Assemblymember Kansen Chu’s Community Heroes Awards Ceremony, which recognized citizens from five local cities, including Santa Clara.
“Thank you to the many individuals who work, live or serve in the 25th Assembly District,” read Chu’s statement in the event program. “Tonight, I am honored to recognize a wonderful group of individuals and organizations who are truly our community heroes.”
Santa Clara honorees included, but were not limited to, Hilda Lopez, employee of the Santa Clara City Library; Regina “Jeannie” Mahan, member of the Board of Directors of the Historic Preservation Society of Santa Clara; Nira Singh, Director of Behavioral Health at Asian Americans for Community Involvement; Patricia Mahan, Council Member in the City of Santa Clara; Riana Grewal, President of the Santa Clara Sister Cities Association Youth Commission; Maitri; Santa Clara Veterans Memorial; and Lisa Chavis, Stephenie Hebert, Sandra Adams, Sue Macias and Veronica Flores, volunteers with Vanguard Music and Performing Arts.
One of the honorees was Dr. Tram Truong, who once served as a flight surgeon as a former United States Army Major. Since then, Truong has returned home to Santa Clara and now works in Internal Medicine at Santa Clara’s Kaiser Permanente.
“From 2009 to 2010, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, I was a flight surgeon. I was the primary care doctor for the flight crew, I trained medics and I advised the battalion commander on medical issues,” Truong said. “I also did primary care for soldiers and some civilians who were sick or had injuries. As the flight surgeon, you have to make sure the soldiers are healthy to fly. If they aren’t healthy, you have to ground them. Sometimes situations got tense. Once a civilian had chest pains and the weather was bad. I had to decide whether to risk it by sending an entire crew out on a medevac (medical evacuation) on a chopper. This is a life or death situation. Do we send the crew out to rescue a civilian on a chopper or do we wait it out to have someone come at the ground level if we don’t think it’s a heart attack?”
Born in Vietnam, Truong immigrated to the United States with her family in 1985 and first lived in Louisiana.
“I came to California when I was seven, and I think we moved to Santa Clara when I was nine,” said Truong, remembering her early years. “I went to Wilcox High School. I always loved science growing up. I took Chemistry, Physics, and A.P. Chemistry from Mr. Richard Parsons.”
Honoree Raj Chahal is known for his involvement in a number of groups, including the City of Santa Clara’s Planning Commission and International Exchange Commission, the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends, the Mission City Community Fund, and the Santa Clara Sister Cities Association. Chahal is also one of the founders of Boy Scouts of America’s Sikh Troop 600, nicknamed the Sikh Scouts.
“This is a humbling experience,” Chahal said.“I try to give back to the community. This award isn’t just for me, but it’s also for my family and the community I serve.”
Honoree Ursula Redner-Conway is headed into her third year teaching Special Education at Buchser Middle School. This native of Arcata, California has been teaching Special Education with the Santa Clara Unified School District for eight years. Although Redner-Conway wasn’t able to attend the awards ceremony, she expressed gratitude for the parent who nominated her.
“My teaching philosophy is to customize the learning experience for each student,” Redner-Conway said. “I try to focus on gains and aim toward a positive goal. I try to identify students’ strengths. The key is working closely with parents and involving them in their child’s education.”