Lap Bui gives an acceptance speech after receiving the Diligence
to Victory Award honoring notable UAFS alumni.
It was 1975, and Lap Bui was crammed beside his family in a fishing boat drifting in the South China Sea several miles off the coast of Vietnam. Bui’s family of eight had loaded into the boat in an effort to escape the turmoil of the Vietnam War, and was near starvation after floating aimlessly for two weeks before being rescued by an American ship.
Now, 42 years later and having found a better life in America, Bui was recognized for his accomplishments as a successful businessman, involved Fort Smith community member, and loving father and husband when he received the Diligence to Victory Award by the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith’s Alumni Association as part of the university’s homecoming festivities, an award recognizing notable UAFS alumni.
The award recognized Bui’s accomplishments after graduating from UAFS when it was Westark Community College in 1993 after moving to Fort Smith from Kalamazoo, Mich., where he and his family spent 10 years after being rescued off the Vietnam coast.
In Fort Smith, his family opened a Vietnam market that evolved into the restaurant Pho Vietnam, and Bui enrolled at UAFS to study electronics technology, an interest that began as a child and continued throughout his upbringing.
“I’ve always had a fascination with electronics, and UAFS had a good electrical program,” he said.
While studying at UAFS, Bui began an internship with Baldor Electric Company working in the applications team. His employment with Baldor flourished after he graduated, as he worked his way up to international director of business, the title he currently holds with the company. In the position, he travels the world to oversee the company’s technical and commercial support centers.
Since graduating from UAFS, he has also left his mark on the Fort Smith community. He has served as both a chairman and member of the UAFS Alumni Council and has been chairman of Frontier Ozark Off Road Cyclists (FOORC). Additionally, he participates in the Mentor Connections program at UAFS and has spoken to students several times on campus.
In the letter nominating Bui for the award, he was praised for his work ethic and determination in finding a better life in America.
“His parents instilled a great work ethic in their son. From their humble beginnings and harrowing escape from a war-torn country, Lap and his family have emerged as outstanding citizens of the United States of America,” the letter stated. “I think it is a well-deserved award for this man with a vision, perseverance, and always a smile.”
Rick Goins, director of alumni affairs at UAFS, also lauded Bui.
“It has been an honor working with Lap over the last three years. His dedication to the university, the Alumni Association, his work and, most importantly, his family, is an inspiration to me and everyone involved with the association and our mentor program,” Goins said. “Lap example of hard work is a reflection of the motto of the first class of Fort Smith Junior College – ‘Through Diligence to Victory,’ for which the award is named.”
About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is the premiere regional institution of Western Arkansas, connecting education with careers and serving as a driver of economic development and quality of place in the greater Fort Smith region. Through a small campus, dedicated professors, and the university’s unique bond with its community, students at UAFS are able to do more in the areas they are passionate about, both on- and off-campus, in a way that prepares them for post-graduate success. To find out how you can do more at UAFS, visit www.uafs.edu.