Local News

Living The American Dream: Raleigh Couple Shares Story Of Extraordinary Journey

Posted October 30, 2003 9:24 a.m. EST

— At a unique doctor's office in North Raleigh, a husband and wife offer dentistry and medicine under one roof. But that is only part of their success. Their story starts halfway around the world.

Jennifer Le escaped Vietnam with her family in 1978. She was 6 years old. Octavian Belcea escaped from Romania when he was 11.

"You know, unless you were in the communist party and you did what they told you, you really couldn't do anything," Belcea said.

With her childhood gone, Le and her family fled Vietnam in a fishing boat packed with refugees. The family eventually made it to the United States.

"We really didn't know the language, we didn't have a dime," she said.

Belcea's family fled to America in 1984.

"We were also on welfare, living off people. This is the only country you could do something like this and start from zero. I mean coming here with nothing and then building up something like this," Belcea said of his life.

The couple have a young daughter and a new medical practice.

"You can really go from this point in life to that point in life, and, you know, we lived it," Le said.

Le said she owes her escape to her mother, while Belcea credits his father.

"Well, without him, I wouldn't be here," he said.

"It was like a puzzle," Le said. "All the pieces were scattered, and when the time came, it all fit in and it's fascinating," Le said.

"When you live through those extremes in life, you never know what tomorrow brings," Le said. "I appreciate every day that I have."

The dentist and the doctor are two halves that make an extraordinary whole.

"We both learned that if you want to do something, if you work for it, you will get it," Belcea said.

The couple opened their medical practice a month ago and are expecting their second child in February.