Meet Our Scholars
Nam was our first Scholar, joining UNIS Hanoi in 2012-2013 to celebrate our 25th Birthday!
He was painfully shy, struggled with English and could barely make eye contact with anyone, but over the next three years, with the help of our faculty and students, we saw him become a leading member of our High School, debating at MUN, elected to Student Senate two years running and always ready to help anyone who needed some extra support with their Maths.
He was already a life-affirming success story! But when he graduated in 2015, he achieved the amazing, and scored a perfect 45 in his IB Diploma… and this was after he already had a guaranteed full scholarship to Williams College ranked #1 University in the US by Forbes.
And Nam’s dream? His goal is to empower meaningful change in his home country. His success is an investment in profound and long term success for this country, which after all, was one of the reasons the United Nations created our school all those years ago!
So it was no surprise that Nam turned up to help our new Scholarship Students during our Summer Programme over the last two years!He says: "Living and studying at UNIS for 3 years is such a unique and memorable experience for me. Thanks to the Scholarship Programme, I have the chance to be a part of such a wonderful community as UNIS Hanoi.
My life has changed since the moment I first stepped through the gate of UNIS. In retrospect, I can see a Nam Nguyen hiding himself in the shell of a reserved bookworm who struggles to maintain the conversation in any topic different from Mathematics for more than 5 minutes. But, at the moment I stood in front of the high school student body and made my Senate speech, that shell was broken into pieces. From a shy and somewhat distant boy, I developed myself to become an amicable friend, a dynamic learner, a courageous risk-taker and an influential leader.
At UNIS, I found a fervent inspiration to learn, to grow up and to strive for what I used to find unachievable. This inspiration comes from nowhere else but my talented friends, my enthusiastic teachers and from the people whom I don’t know but are contributing day by day toward UNIS community – my big family. I want to conclude this stream of thought by expressing my gratitude to the Scholarship Programme, to all people who gave me the opportunities and to those who will give the disadvantaged kids like me the privileges that I have got."
In June 2016, standing shoulder to shoulder with her 60 fellow learners, Phuong Ly became the second scholar to graduate from UNIS Hanoi.
Not only, did she graduate successfully, she also picked up the School’s coveted community service award. Known as the Dr. Frances J Rhodes Community Service Award, Phuong Ly was readily nominated by her teachers, in recognition of her ‘selfless’ service to others.
Now Phuong Ly continues her next exciting chapter with that same spirit instilled in her. Currently based in Pennsylvania, USA, Phuong Ly is studying a double major in pre-medicine and international relations at Lafayette College on a full scholarship, with the aim of returning to Vietnam one day as a qualified Doctor.
It’s a dream she’s held for a long time, and a dream she knows she would not be near achieving, had it not been for her scholarship at UNIS Hanoi.
She says, “Coming to the School changed my life. I have always wanted to become the best Doctor I could be and I realised early on that the only way I could achieve this, was if I got the chance to study abroad. And now that I’m here, Lafayette College is even more than I ever imagined it would be. UNIS Hanoi gave me the right foundation to achieve so much. To the School, I’d like to say thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you straight to the end! I’m really grateful to the counselors and teachers for getting me to college and for transforming me into the kind of person I am today. I will never forget what UNIS Hanoi has done for me.”
It’s been three years since Linh Nguyen joined UNIS Hanoi as the scholar fully sponsored by real estate developers, Bitexco. Bright, ambitious and incredibly inquisitive, Linh, who’s the only child of a widowed street cleaner, has seized every opportunity the scholarship has brought her way. She’s maintained high grades, participated in Model United Nations conferences as well as talent shows, and has implemented a Service Learning group called Pet Rescue. But never content with accomplishing just what is expected of her, Linh also impacts her local community through her involvement in groups such as VietAbroader which actively encourages local students to consider studying abroad. Now in Grade 11, with a US college in her sights, her drive to succeed remains unabated.
She says, “My dream since I was seven years old was to study abroad. My dream to study a course like marketing with the hope of helping less fortunate children like myself keeps me going. I was inspired by Phuong Ly and before she left, she taught me one thing - to keep pursuing my dream no matter what. That’s what I’m doing and by being at UNIS Hanoi, I’ve gained more confidence and belief in myself that I can do anything".
Linh goes further, saying “Thanks to scholarship program, I have had the privilege to study in a diverse community, which nurtures learning and encourages students to improve and develop their talents. UNIS has taught me that weakness isn't fatal and confronting challenges is simply a pleasure. Now, the road to university is getting closer by the days. It is a rocky road, but it's profoundly covered by passion. You know the earth always rotates around its axis. A dream is similar to the axis; it stays at one point. All you need to do is to revolve around your dream and find the way to approach it because taking action is truly the ultimate answer."
A love of literature is not the only thing that Ngoc Anh has garnered from her three years at UNIS Hanoi; a love of service to others is also something she now appreciates. The aspiring author who joined the School in 2014, aims to open a library for children in her village community, inspired by the School’s commitment to giving.
She says, “I want to use our village’s community centre as a library. My plan is to buy discounted and used books to put in the library for local children to come and read. At the moment, the only books available are picture books, but I want to see children reading novels.
Since I’ve been at UNIS Hanoi, I’ve seen how my confidence in reading and writing has grown because I have more reading sources available to me, which gives me more inspiration. I have also joined Whattpad which is a site where I can write my stories for other people to read, like and comment on. I would not have known that about these things, if I had not come here.”
As a Grade 10 student, Ngoc Anh will be required to complete a Personal Project, exploring a subject of study of her own choosing. She will use this opportunity to write and publish her very first novel, that’s set in a mirror universe.
Yet it’s not just writing that Ngoc Anh has a talent for. She’s also participated in the Model United Nations, drama and is learning to play the violin.
“Just being here has made me a different person” she says.
Graduating this year, after three years at UNIS Hanoi, is Linh Vu. Quietly confident, Linh says her time at the School has flown by, but what she’s experienced, will impact her for a lifetime.
She explains, “These past few years went by fast! Things have changed significantly; I have changed significantly. In a short time, I have not only had to adapt to the international environment but I have also had to learn to be an international student. My approach to thinking has changed so much from what it used to be."
It might seem cliché to say this, but I am fully honored to be given the opportunity to be a part of this community. Other people might go through a completely different set of changes than me while they are here, but I know that all of us scholarship students, understand who we are much more and in a much shorter space of time than we ever thought possible.
UNIS Hanoi has also empowered me to believe in my future and in my identity. I feel grateful because the foundation that the School has laid for me has become the building blocks to a brighter future, and it is my mission to try my best to help Vietnam become better, no matter how I achieve this or how hard it is for me.
In June, Linh Vu will graduate from UNIS Hanoi, with the hopes of pursuing a course in psychology or sociology at a US College.
When you see Grade 12 student Lam Luu light up the stage thanks to his star quality performance, it’s hard to imagine he was once a shy, victim of bullies who was taunted for who he was. Fast forward three years at UNIS Hanoi, and Lam - along with all who know him - embraces his flamboyant nature to the fullest.
Lam says,“Here, I can express myself more. I find that I have the freedom to express myself in ways that I haven’t been able to before. UNIS Hanoi has helped shape who I am and shape who I want to become. How do I make this world a better world; do I care about my family and the world or just about myself? Understanding individual responsibility are the things I’ve learned to think about.”
But it’s not just the personal growth that has impacted Lam so profoundly over the years, his creative talents have also been honed. He adds, “This School has taught me many things, not only academics but also life skills. I feel my teachers understand me and they are always helpful and they always respect my opinion. I’ve also gained a lot of confidence because of my time at UNIS Hanoi. I have even been in two plays and taken part in APAC Theatre. I didn’t know I could do such a thing before.”
This year Lam graduates, hoping to pursue Fine Art at a college abroad.
A combination of participating in Debate Club and a service learning programme called ‘A Day in the Life’ has sparked a passion for Human Rights in UNIS Hanoi scholar, Ngan Phung.
In the two years she’s been at the School, Ngan has formed an appreciation of equality for all, regardless of race, colour, creed or sexual orientation. As part of her Grade 10 learning requirements this year, Ngan is using her personal project assignment to investigate the oft-considered sensitive topic of the LGBT movement in Vietnam.
Explaining why she’s determined to address social inequalities, Ngan says, “Outside of this school, I see so much mistreatment. I didn’t know that much about LGBT issues before I came here because people don’t talk about it much in Vietnam. In this country, we think it is socially evil but I’ve learned that it’s not and I want to educate people about it".
“I hope that one day, I can be a human rights lawyer in this country.”
Her new perspective on life and society is a direct result of her time at UNIS Hanoi. She reveals, “I am now able to perceive things from different perspectives in order to find the best solutions to a problem, because I know that life is not always full of sweetness and happiness. UNIS Hanoi has given me an opportunity to be creative and open minded. I am proud that I will one day give my family a brighter future and it is such an honor for me to be in a position to be able to contribute to my society in a profound way.”
Very few students achieve grades high enough to be worthy of the School’s prestigious Principal’s List. Yet Ha Nguyen did, ending her first year at UNIS Hanoi with straight 7s and as the only female member of the school’s winning Math Olympiad squad. Now in Grade 9, she’s ready to conquer other aspects of school life, including life on the sports field.
“This year, I tried out for the MRISA volleyball team, and I made it!" enthuses Ha. “I went to Cambodia with the team, something I’m excited about it.”
Ha continues, “My mother is really proud of me and she thinks UNIS Hanoi is a better home for me. Everyday that I attend UNIS Hanoi, my thinking deepens. This School has shown me a different way to learn which means my brain has to work more and now I love to think in a different way. I’ve also found other talents which I’m pleased about. I believe that what I’m learning by being here at UNIS Hanoi prepares me for life. For the first time, I can imagine my future opportunities is as vast as the starry sky. Like Vincent Van Gogh said, ‘Great things are done by a series of small things brought together’. In the same way, I know that the small steps I take every day during my years at UNIS will lead to great things.”
As a Grade 10 Honor Roll student, Giang has attained high grades in all her subjects over the two years she’s been at UNIS Hanoi, proving her excellence at learning. Yet, she’s discovered that there are some lessons she had little knowledge of before joining our School.
She explains, “I belong in a traditional Vietnamese family who do not believe women are equal to men. Since I have been studying at UNIS Hanoi, I’ve learned about gender inequality and what it is. Also, I’ve seen how my enrollment at this School has changed the minds of my family members and their perception of me. Before, I was not that valuable in their eyes compared to my male cousin. Then I came here and they said, ‘Wow, at least she can do something with her life’.
Being at UNIS Hanoi has changed my life completely. I’ve changed the way I think, which has affected the kind of future that I want to have. Back in the old days, I used to imagine myself as a literature teacher in a normal school, or maybe an author of a book or creator of a magazine for teenagers. However, UNIS Hanoi’s learning system has put me on a different path. So, I don’t want to be a local teacher anymore; I now want to do something that is bigger; something that isn’t just about myself only, but also about the community. I want to do something to help women and children’s mental health. This issue is an essential issue in Vietnam nowadays with real and serious effect on daily life. I want to be one of the first people to find solutions to improve the mental health of women and children and to also raise people’s awareness about this problem.”
With her passion for community service, underpinned by her academic abilities, Giang is on track to impact Vietnam in remarkable ways.
New to UNIS Hanoi this year is Mo Bui, the youngest of our scholars. Beating 10 other candidates for the coveted four year scholarship that began in August, Mo marvels at the new environment she now finds herself in.
A world away from all she’s known before, Mo confirms she’s aware of the endless possibilities that are currently open to her. She says, “My mother is a cleaner at a Kindergarten and I lost my father when I was little so without this scholarship, I would not have been able to continue onto high school. My mother is happy that I’m here and I am too. We know that this is my opportunity to have a better life.”
The ‘better life’ that Mo is grateful for, is now something she’s keen to offer to other children like her, in the future. She says, “The first thing I will do after I graduate, is support the School's scholarship program because I know that’s what will make me successful. When I become Minister of Education one day, I will change the way teaching in Vietnam is carried out and introduce the UNIS way of learning because I’ve seen the incredibly good teaching we have here and I think it’s the key to success.”
And it’s not just the classroom learning that has left Mo impressed. In just a few months, Mo, has also experienced her first three-day school trip to Ba Vi, tried her hand at sports and enjoys interacting with others from different cultures. Mo’s world just became brighter.