Văn Khánh Quỳnh, a junior Fulbright student, has impressively won the championship at the GreenHack Challenge. This social innovation competition, organized by Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), focuses on addressing environmental issues and climate change using technology. The competition drew participants from students across the globe.
Currently majoring in Art & Media Studies and Human-centered Engineering at Fulbright, Quỳnh entered the competition to gain practical experience in product development and technology, thus, prepare her for new career opportunities in the future.
In the competition, Quỳnh had extraordinary teammates from Hong Kong, Australia, and the Philippines. She enthusiastically shared about the team formation, stating, “Everything came from being open to communication, making friends despite geographical differences.” In the future, Quỳnh and her teammates are determined to build a team from various parts of the world to implement their idea – “CommunIOTy.”
Addressing the challenge of creating a technological innovation to cope with climate change, “CommunIOTy” was born after 48 hours of intense work. It is a platform that integrates IoT technology for monitoring and managing floods, providing early warnings and enhancing response efforts through real-time data. To develop this idea, Quỳnh applied a lot of knowledge acquired at school, particularly the Design Thinking model taught in one of the foundational courses: Design & System Thinking.
The team’s innovation secured the championship and earned them the opportunity to advance to the final round of the HK Techathon+, scheduled to take place in Hong Kong in January 2024.
Let’s congratulate Văn Khánh Quỳnh for her outstanding efforts and creative solutions! And don’t forget to send good wishes to Quỳnh for her journey in bringing sustainable values to the environment ahead.
Quynh Anh is a junior at Fulbright University Vietnam and a Process Engineer Intern at Intel. Previously, she only wanted to explore social sciences and was intimidated by numbers, leading her to believe that she was best suited for subjects involving reading and essay writing. This perception created certain expectations and labels from those around her.
However, attending Fulbright was a significant turning point for her. The university instilled a belief in limitless potential, encouraging her to fearlessly pursue opportunities, especially those she previously thought were out of reach. Quynh Anh shares, “I was in an environment where my peers were also adventurous and bold. I realized I shouldn’t limit myself to specific fields or labels. This realization gave me the opportunity to explore my interests, make progress, and understand myself better each day. I learned to embrace challenges and failures as lessons for my future growth.”
Having transitioned from someone who believed she was only suited for Social Sciences, Quynh Anh now majors in Applied Mathematics with a minor in Human-centered Engineering at Fulbright. She also began an internship at Intel as a Process Engineer.
Problem-Solving Skills – The Key to Succeeding as a Process Engineer Intern at Intel
Intel is a technology manufacturing powerhouse with large-scale production and daily trend adjustments. Every staff must ensure smooth production processes, efficient machine operation, and optimization to maintain quality while boosting productivity. Issues in the factory are inevitable, making a mindset geared towards continual improvement and proactive solution-finding highly valued at Intel. Recognizing this, Quynh Anh, when applying for the Process Engineer position, armed herself with problem-solving skills—a proficiency she cultivated daily at Fulbright.
Quynh Anh’s problem-solving ability stems from her strategy to master courses that aren’t her strong suit. She recalled her experience in the Electrical Circuits & Design course with Dr. Le Quan, where she started with no knowledge of electrical circuits. Initially, she found the lectures and concepts challenging to grasp. To overcome this, she experimented with various learning methods until she found an approach that worked for her.
Moreover, Fulbright’s extracurricular activities offered Quynh Anh chances to improve her problem-solving skills. A few months ago, she led the choir team for Fulbright’s Commencement. As the team was newly formed with inexperienced members, it was a significant challenge. “I had to devise various strategies to help them sing well and harmonize. I took the initiative to manage the choir, find suitable methods, and rehearse repeatedly for members to learn how to blend their voices. I view every activity, big or small, as a challenge and an opportunity for self-improvement in problem-solving,” shared Quynh Anh.
The Unending Learning Journey in Any Position and Opportunity
Quynh Anh’s primary goal is to seize every learning opportunity. Intel offers her ample chances to both study and work in an environment where engineers are dynamic, experienced, and dedicated to continual improvement. Team members are always eager to share knowledge, support interns, and provide opportunities to participate in projects. Under their guidance, Quynh Anh has not only gained specialized knowledge but also practical experience.
Specifically, Intel houses a large-scale chip assembly plant with an advanced automation system, where Quynh Anh spent a significant portion of her internship. “I seize the opportunity to work at the factory daily to observe and learn about the production process and machinery operation. This helps me develop better systemic thinking. Additionally, I actively attend many company training courses on problem-solving tools and methods, such as the Lean Methodology, A3, and 5M+ E,” Quynh Anh shares about her future plans at Intel.
Music and Engineering? They May Seem Incompatible, But They Harmonize Surprisingly Well
Quynh Anh enjoys producing electronic music and sound design as a hobby. Before studying Human-centered Engineering, she edited music based on intuition and online guidance, without fully understanding each control knob’s function or each button’s significance.
However, after taking engineering classes at Fulbright, Quynh Anh was surprised to discover many similarities between audio engineering terms and concepts from her engineering classes. This newfound knowledge deepened her understanding of concepts like cut-off frequency, low-pass filter, high-pass filter, and their functions.
“Understanding the principles behind each music editing technique will help me design sound more confidently. It provides more creative space and allows me to pursue my hobby with greater passion,” Quynh Anh shared enthusiastically.
Recently back from the FIRST® Global Challenge in Singapore in October 2023, where they mentored the Vietnamese robotics team to the the FIRST® Global Winning Alliance Award and Social Media Award, Tran Thao Nguyen is flying off again, this time to Hanoi, where they kick-started FIRST® Tech Challenge’s Vietnam Championship as its Tournament Director. The FIRST® Tech Challenge is a robotics competition for students in grades 7–12. Founded by FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), it is an influential STEM program in the U.S. that has changed lives and inspired generations of engineers, educators, and innovators. With FIRST® Tech Challenge in Vietnam, Nguyen hopes to encourage STEM learning in technology education for local high schoolers. The program will also bring opportunities to Vietnamese students with international scholarship and exchange opportunities. And importantly, the most excellent team (decided by the Inspire Award for comprehensive excellence in robotics design, solidarity, and community impact) will represent Vietnam in the FIRST® Tech Challenge World Championship in the U.S. next April.
Finding the right fit with Fulbright University Vietnam’s liberal arts education model
Known all around campus and beyond as a rising star in Robotics and AI, it might come as a surprise to most that Nguyen majors in Social Studies, with concentration on Political Science and Political Economy at Fulbright. Nguyen also minors in Integrated Sciences, with interests in Neuroscience, Human Physiology and Immunology, and Environmental Sciences.
For Nguyen, Fulbright was “the chance for me to get a world-class education without going abroad, and which is set in Vietnamese contexts so that I can gain more insights about my country, to contribute to its societyin the future.”
Likened their capacity to that of a “Swiss army knife,” Nguyen adds: “I think the multidisciplinary academic background I gained at Fulbright combined with practical experience in fields like STEM education and climate finance has provided me with a robust foundation to engage in impactful work that addresses pressing global issues at their intersection, whether it be governance of emerging technologies, building more sustainable and resilient communities, or resolving complex political and social problems. I landed an internship at Earth Venture Capital, a climate-focused investment fund, without having a finance background thanks to my critical thinking skills, my research ability in multiple industries, and my experience in partnership building. I can be on the edge of innovation thanks to Fulbright’s interdisciplinary and practical academic approach.”
From Bac Lieu to a life around the world
Born and raised in the small province of Bac Lieu, Nguyen has now visited 7 countries outside of Vietnam (Mexico, UAE, Japan, Singapore, US, UK, and the Philippines) on tournament trips, for conferences and workshops events, all of these fully funded.
Some of the proudest moments in Nguyen’s life was when they,despite the high altitude, beat their own running record in Vietnam and conquered Ajusco (4,000m), the highest peak in Mexico City, and later, the Toluca Volcano (4,200m). “I made serious and consistent efforts on my fitness training because I was vegetarian and had low blood pressure, so being able to achieve those milestones immensely changed my mindset about self-tranformation and hard work.” – Nguyen proudly shared.
Mexico was one of the more recent destinations for Nguyen when they won the Effective Altruism Mexico Fellowship 2022 and lived for 2 months in Mexico City for academic, professional, and cultural exchange and helped organize the first Effective Altruism global conference for the Latin America community. Previously, in 2018, Nguyen was a member of Team Vietnam in the FIRST® Global Challenge international competition held in the same city and achieved 12th place out of 161 teams, plus winning a Bronze medal in Engineering design.
In 2019, Nguyen was team captain and led Team Vietnam’s fundraising and communications strategies. Team Vietnam won the Mansa Musa Award for fundraising efforts at FIRST® Global Challenge at Dubai, UAE.
The same year, Nguyen received a full scholarship to Manai Institute of Science and Technology’s 2019 Summer Program which took place from July 28th – August 3rd at Hokkaido University, Japan.
Nguyen’s leadership at FIRST® Global Challenge 2023 in Singapore
This October of 2023, Nguyen was Mentor and Award Judge at the FIRST® Global Challenge in Singapore. Each FIRST® Global Challenge is a whole world united with teams from almost 200 countries. The atmosphere fostered at these competitions is one of collaboration and goodwill, where teams not only competed but worked together and played together without barriers. “It is the closest manifestation of world peace I have ever experienced,” Nguyen proclaimed.
As a Mentor at FIRST® Global Challenge in Singapore, Nguyen was the go-to point for team members when they needed help with subject matter expertise such as engineering, robotic constructions, business management, marketing, or fundraising. Mentors also served as positive examples and advisors, guiding the students to develop qualities like good sportsmanship, respect for the contributions of others, teamwork, and community involvement which are important core values in the FIRST® program.
As Award Judge, Nguyen scored competing teams on technical and non-technical categories, such as Engineering Design, and Innovation in Engineering, International Enthusiasm, International Unity.
Her strong mentorship brought the Vietnam Team won the FIRST® Global Winning Alliance Award and the Social Media Award. “I got to give my team their Gold Medal on stage at the closing ceremony! Nothing can beat that feeling!” – Nguyen reminisced.
Creating impacts at home
Largely inspired by FIRST® Global Challenge, Nguyen organized Vietnam’s first Viet Nam STEAM Challenge in 2020. The competition aimed at cultivating a safe environment to unite talented young innovators of Viet Nam as they work on contemporary global issues. This first event welcomed 24 finalist teams with 200 contestants, 20 mentors and 100 accompanying teachers and audience members.
Viet Nam STEAM Challenge returned in 2021 (due to COVID) with 10 finalist teams in an online format. From 2022, the Viet Nam STEAM Challenge continues to organize community activities, STEAM teaching workshops, and competitions for students across the country from 2022 onwards.
2022 also marked the creation of Viet Nam Robotics Challenge 2022 which is specifically geared towards the robotics competition model with the participation of 41 teams, 400 students, 50 mentors, 100 accompanying teachers and over 200 onsite audience. Contestants, mentors, and volunteers join the Viet Nam Robotics Challenge to connect with people with the same passion and drive for robotics and engineering.
This year, Nguyen is the Tournament Director of the first Vietnam Championship for FIRST® Tech Challenge, one of the oldest and largest competitions in the U.S. with a Kickoff Ceremony on November 7, 2023. The event will officially take place in the spring of 2024.
Leveraging Fulbright’s liberal arts foundation for the future
As they nears the end of their college career at Fulbright, Nguyen reflects on their journey: “The thing I love about Fulbright is how intellectually curious, kind and socially-minded the community is. And I wholeheartedly treasure the academic freedom we are allowed to venture at Fulbright.” Nguyen then added: “Fulbright also provided me with a lot of opportunities. In my first year at Fulbright, I was lucky enough to be one of the first students to benefit from the Social Impact Fellowship Program and went to Hanoi for an internship at Fauna & Flora International. I lived together with other fellows at Hanoi-based NPOs/NGOs such as KOTO and Fargreen, in a tiny house in the alleys of Nghi Tàm Street. The Fulbright peers I met on that trip have remained some of my closest friends. And the spirit of social contribution has also stayed with me ever since.”
Nguyen is keeping their options open for their career in technology education, or any other promising fields after Fulbright. “I can be an entrepreneur, an impact investor, a community builder, researcher at a think tank, or maybe to a graduate program in Political Science or Technology Policy,” says Nguyen. “In the long term, I wish to contribute to creating a safe future with technology. I am passionate about technology’s potential to create a better future, but I also recognize the needs for responsible development given past issues like global inequality, nuclear weapons, and climate change. I want to work in this cause with a focus on lower- and middle- income countries as I think they are underrepresented and vulnerable groups in the global technology race.”
Phan Canh Minh Phuoc is a graduate from the Co-design Cohort in June 2023. During his time at Fulbright, Phuoc achieved much, gained valuable experiences, and made significant contributions. He has helped establishing “Product Development” at Fulbright. Today, we’ve asked Phuoc to share more about his journey.
Fulbright has opened new doors for Phuoc
Securing a job at one of the top three management consulting firms in the world is extremely competitive, especially for college students. Despite the odds, Phuoc outshone numerous candidates during the interview process and secured a position in BCG’s dynamic team with his highly regarded strategic solutions.
Furthermore, an internship at ZaloPay, facilitated by the strategic partnership between Fulbright and VNG Corporation, proved to be a game-changer for Phuoc. This opportunity allowed him to work directly with senior managers.
Just over a year into his career, he became the youngest Product Development team leader at the corporation!
Together with Dr. Le Quan, Phuoc developed first “Product Development” course at Fulbright
After two years in the Product Development team at ZaloPay, Phuoc had the opportunity to collaborate with Professor Le Quan, an Engineering lecturer, to create Fulbright’s inaugural “Product Development” course.
Phuoc views this course as a testament to the school’s commitment to developing an educational program that keeps pace with societal advancements. Despite being relatively new in Vietnam’s tech field, the Product Development department is gaining popularity. Major domestic tech companies have been actively recruiting for this role in recent years. Fulbright has wisely responded to this trend by including this course in its annual curriculum.
During the design process and class activities, Phuoc recognized the benefits of Fulbright’s liberal arts education. To fully develop a feature, students need to cultivate a variety of skills from different fields:
👉 Psychology for understanding user psychology.
👉 Economics/Business for analyzing the feature’s benefits to the owning business.
👉 Visual for designing the feature’s interface.
👉 Human-centered engineering for assessing the feature’s feasibility.
In their first year at Fulbright, students gain these skillsets through core courses. As a result, in a short period, they were able to produce impressive products that received high ratings from large tech companies for their end-of-term projects.
Phuoc’s messages to current and future Fulbright students
Phuoc’s five-year journey was marked by proactiveness, resilience, and a strong sense of community. He embraced a variety of extracurricular activities, from interning at companies to initiating community projects. These experiences not only honed his skills but also allowed him to assist his peers in their post-graduation job search.
Phuoc welcomed challenges with a positive attitude and unwavering perseverance. He learned the most when he pushed his boundaries and held the philosophy, “If one is struggling, one is learning”. This mindset was pivotal in overcoming the various challenges he faced during his university years.
Recognizing the importance of seeking help, Phuoc appreciated the supportive environment at Fulbright. He praised the initiatives introduced by various departments like the Venture Fellowship Program, the tutoring program, and the mental health care program. He found the faculty always ready to engage with students beyond academics. This proactive and supportive environment ensured he never felt alone during his time at Fulbright.
Join us at Fulbright, where our students are not just learners but also contributors to the community. Like Phuoc, you too can make the most of your academic journey within a vibrant and nurturing environment.
Director Trinh Dinh Le Minh’s schedule these days is truly packed. Along with his teaching duties at Fulbright, Le Minh is completing pre-production for his upcoming film project “Ngày xưa có một chuyện tình” (Once upon a love story) scheduled to start shooting this December.
On teaching filmmaking, Le Minh observes: “A film crew is one coherent entity, there is always cooperation between departments which requires the understanding of your colleagues’ responsibilities and on-going tasks. So learning to produce a film, first of all, is to acquire the competence for teamwork and task organization, vital skills that transcend professions”. In addition, filmmaking demands a breadth of knowledge, in both technical and social matters. Technical mastery helps directors create movies with eye-catching angles, colors and layouts. An understanding of society helps them forge intricate story lines that deal with pertinent social topics, creating works with cultural and historical values. Art and Media Studies is an invaluable area of studies for students, whether pursued as a major, minor, or simply out of curiosity.
Lessons on the fundamentals of filmmaking from director Trinh Dinh Le Minh
At Fulbright, director Trinh Dinh Le Minh is the passionate lecturer behind “Introduction to Video and Film Production”, and “Narrative,” plus one new course slated for next semester, “Documentary Filmmaking and Video Journalism”. In “Introduction to Video and Film Production”, students are exposed to basic filmmaking techniques where they learn about screenwriting, imagery, sound engineering, and narrative techniques to weave captivating tales. Through small projects and one final short film, students gain an understanding of the overall process of film production. Along the way, they gain insights on creativity, storytelling, project management, and human resource management, and so on. With “Narrative”, students learn to tell stories (an art form that makes up the tapestry of human history, useful in work and life). Students will use this skill to apply to content production work in various media.
“Studying Art and Media Studies within Fulbright’s liberal arts framework liberates minds to embrace cross-disciplinary thinking, cultivates the skills to apply diverse knowledge, and fosters teamwork and leadership capacity. This opens the door to diverse career opportunities,” Trinh Dinh Le Minh shares.
Director Trinh Dinh Le Minh looks for proactive, curious, and daring learners
Director Trinh Dinh Le Minh notices that Fulbright students are eager and proactive learners. He observes with admiration that Fulbright students “approach reading and viewing with gusto; for them, these activities are prerequisites. I see this as truly commendable in learners.”
Art and Media Studies is the right major for those who are “curious and open to new experience; even when we might not favor these new ideas or experiences; what’s crucial is to retain an openness to receive them, because they will help you collide with the world, ignite inspiration and hone what you really want to follow.” He added: “The idea of “collision” here also includes seeking feedback, standing alongside creative works by other artists, seeing diverse methods, from all this to further grow and refine one’s own art.” These are sensory and intellectual insights that give filmmakers grounds for contemplation and to elevate the caliber of their works.
Liberal arts education as the perfect foundation for students to develop knowledge and skills in the arts and media
For Trinh Dinh Le Minh, Fulbright’s liberal arts education model allows for the study of art and media to benefit students of diverse interests and career paths.
Artists do not confine themselves to studios, but must always be in conversation with life, to gather interdisciplinary knowledge about the economy, society, culture, politics, and beyond, to tap into topics that matter and carry their projects to fruition. The liberal arts education model at Fulbright gives students majoring in Art and Media Studies a rich base of knowledge, along with research skills that are applicable to diverse professional fields. Even when graduates do not go on to work directly with arts, they can find a rewarding career in related industries such as audience studies, marketing, management, or event organization, and so on, where technical art and media knowledge is required. Additionally, students of majors such as Psychology, Sociology, Business Administration, etc., can develop the ability to appreciate aesthetics as well as cultivate a management mindset when taking courses in Art and Media Studies. Indeed, this major opens doors to many applications and possibilities.
Quoting Dr. Pamela Corey, Major Coordinator for Art and Media Studies, director Trịnh Đình Lê Minh delves deeper: “Researchers must ‘keep in mind practical applications’, and producers must ‘have a good grasp of art history, art analysis, and comprehend the artistic currents that have arisen and evolved with time’, in order to birth innovations.”
Director Trịnh Đình Lê Minh makes films to explore life
Personally, Le Minh does not immerse himself in any particular artistic school, but rather draws inspiration from directors who came before him. It’s the allure of the beauty of art in general, and the resonance in the cinematic canvas in particular, that motivates him. Equally crucial for him is the connection between the audience and the filmmaker, where both can find a common ground in their perspectives on life, and resonate to the deft touch of the director’s artistic designs. This is also the philosophy he imparts to students at Fulbright during his lectures.
To Trịnh Đình Lê Minh, no matter how many films he has made, each one is a unique experience: “Directors are on an eternal search. We voyage through worlds and explore characters in our scripts. Our perspectives also change with time; hence even the same story is told anew every time through the lens of evolving experience. That’s what I find fascinating about filmmaking.” In his philosophy, “art stems from life, but it also reflects aspects of life that can’t be expressed otherwise.” Art is a deep dive into the depth of perception, a quest to illuminate life’s nuances and paint vivid portraits of life that might slip through the cracks of simple observation.” Therefore, Lê Minh doesn’t merely make films to “express his perspective on life,” but also to “explore different facets of life that he might have missed had he not embarked upon that cinematic journey.” Heightened emotions blended with fresh looks into life at the point of convergence that gives birth to beautiful and meaningful cinematic creations.
This December, “Ngày xưa có một chuyện tình” will officially start filming. This tale of young love, set in the Vietnam of the 90s and early 2000s, promises to strike a chord with today’s young moviegoers. Eras might have shifted, but the essence of love remains. This movie hopes to connect young viewers with their parents’ generation, whose youth and love was as exuberant and colorful and worthy of celebration as ever there has been youth and love. It’s a story from nearly 30 years ago, but will surely not be outdated.
Lan Khanh, a final-year student at Fulbright University Vietnam, is pursuing a degree in Human-centered Engineering. Prior to this, she explored various fields in accordance with the liberal arts spirit at Fulbright. Most recently, she and her team won second place in a Hackathon organized by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at Fulbright in collaboration with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). With their innovative and exciting idea of a “Dishwashing Detergent Delivery Service”, Lan Khanh earned the opportunity to participate in an exchange program in Singapore in the following semester.
Today, let’s listen to Lan Khanh as she shares her journey towards Human-centered Engineering and her thrilling Hackathon experience!
I’m passionate about Human-centered Engineering
Before officially selecting my major at Fulbright, I had the opportunity to explore many different fields. I dabbled in Computer Science, focusing on UX-UI Design courses. However, it was Human-centered Engineering that truly captivated my heart.
This major embodies all my aspirations. There’s always something new to discover, allowing me to work and learn daily without monotony. I have the freedom to create and modify the products I love. Most importantly, there’s a close-knit community for mutual support and growth.
Our lecturers continuously seek opportunities for us, such as the SUTD Hackathon and international exchange programs. They are always eager to assist students. There were nights when we worked on projects until the security guards ‘encouraged’ us to go home. We often jest, “Makerspace was more of our home than our actual places!” At Fulbright, Makerspace is a student’s crafting area where we can bring our creative ideas to life.
The memories, experiences, and the people I’ve met here have nurtured my growing love for Human-centered Engineering.
An Engaging International Hackathon Experience
The SUTD Hackathon is a valued experience during my academic journey at Fulbright. In this five-day event, each team needs to find a sustainable solution for One4One and Datfood. These brands help farmers increase their income while providing environmentally friendly products like sesame oil, essential oils, and health care items.
Our team, comprising two Fulbright and four SUTD students, was tasked with finding a solution for a dishwashing liquid product line. We brainstormed intensively, from setting up a website and drafting plans to simulating the product.
We eventually proposed a “Dishwashing Detergent Delivery Service”. Our goal was to simplify the consumer experience, promote an eco-friendly lifestyle, and encourage the reuse of bottles and jars.
To me, the competition wasn’t just about winning prizes. It was also an opportunity for cultural exchange, sharing, and mutual learning. I contributed my insights as a Vietnamese consumer to help my team understand the domestic market better. Additionally, I had the pleasure of introducing SUTD students to Saigon’s street food and local activities.
I aim to explore the “big sea” to find where I fit in
Next semester, I have been offered the chance to join an exchange program at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. This is an opportunity for me to dive into the “big sea” and discover how engineering students study in other countries.
Upon my return from the exchange program, I’m excited to share my learnings with other young individuals who have the same passion. Stay tuned!
With an insatiable passion for music, art and media accompanied by long-term efforts, Nguyen Dac Hoang has been chosen to be one of the two Fulbright students participating in the exchange program at Bard College, USA in the upcoming Spring semester of 2024.
Nguyen Dac Hoang is currently a third-year student majoring in Art and Media Studies at Fulbright University Vietnam. With 5 years of experience in the field of Communication and Journalism, Hoang is a pioneer in founding the Communication Club (COMEDIA) at Fulbright. Here, Hoang and his friends have been striving to create either internships, work opportunities, or sharing sessions of knowledge and experience for students passionate about Communication.
Hoang’s journey is one of self-reflection and aggressively exploring one’s own yet-to-be-discovered abilities with the knowledge he obtained at Fulbright.
“The Arts and Media Studies Major at Fulbright helps me be more open-minded”
By the end of my first year, I realized that the Art and Media Studies program at Fulbright is not solely focused on providing practical skills in communication, entertainment, marketing, and so on. In addition to that, we gain knowledge of independent thinking, social critique, and multidimensional analysis through theoretical topics and challenging philosophical questions. In the context of the rapid development of science and technology, I believe that these skills equips me with the ability to self-learn and keep up with the new demands of the profession in the future.
For example, I’ve always thought that processing spatial and visual information was not my strong suit because I struggled with geometry and had difficulty memorizing images.
However, after taking the Introduction to Visual Studies course instructed by Dr. Tram Luong, it was as if a switch was turned on in my visual thinking. Through theoretical lessons on visual culture, the gaze, reproduction, and so on, I was given powerful “tools” to perceive, analyze, and evaluate the visual world with critical thinking and a multidimensional perspective. In the final exhibition, I even took part in ideating the exhibition space and creating visual products with my group.
Expanding further, as an Entertainment journalist, I always proactively apply the knowledge instructed by professors and lecturers to examine popular cultural products from various perspectives such as history and tradition. As a result, my music critiques are more profound and persuasive to readers.
Utilizing knowledge and the community at Fulbright to proactively create opportunities for myself.
At Fulbright, I actively create opportunities for myself. My primary goal when I develop COMEDIA is for it to be a place that provides Fulbright’s students opportunities to apply academic knowledge, share their experiences, as well as internship and career possibilities for students passionate about Communication. Moreover, COMEDIA aims to promote a pay-it-forward spirit. We have had opportunities to collaborate with individuals, organizations, and programs to disseminate the message of communication, such as the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation – Fulbright University Vietnam, the TECx event – Technology Entrepreneurs Creative Arts Mix 2023, and the Mekong Water Challenge. Additionally, COMEDIA often organizes internal training sessions and knowledge sharing to enhance the professional skills of our members.
Similarly, during my upcoming exchange semester at Bard College in the United States, I plan to take classes in in-depth music research and its applications in socio-cultural life. I hope that the knowledge I gain at Bard College will enrich my theoretical understanding, critical thinking, and knowledge of music, which will enable me to write valuable and insightful analytical articles for readers.
Furthermore, I also have aspirations to connect COMEDIA with student clubs and media organizations at Bard College. I aim to create more opportunities for exchange and development between students from both institutions to enhance their experiences and skills.
“There is not any school that can fully define who I am. But it can create an environment that helps me find my own definition.”
I believe that there is not any school that can fully define who we are. Schools should only provide resources, a safe environment for trial and error, and a platform for students to explore their strengths, weaknesses, and desired development in the future. Most importantly, you should keep an open heart and a proactive learning spirit.
The knowledge gained from classes at Fulbright has liberated the limitations in my thinking and mindset. From someone who solely enjoyed pure art, I now pursue majors in Social Studies and Vietnamese Studies alongside Arts and Media Studies. To undergo these “shocks”, I believe that an open heart, and a willingness to learn and change while maintaining a critical spirit, is an essential asset for every Fulbright student.
Personally, I believe that university is not the sole place that provides us with knowledge and opportunities. Instead, I value the spirit of proactive learning, creating opportunities for ourselves, and utilizing the available resources at university to enhance our individual learning journeys.
Learn more about Arts and Media Studies at Fulbright at: https://fulbright.edu.vn/vi/major/nghien-cuu-nghe-thuat-va-truyen-thong/
Tuong Nguyen is currently a student at Fulbright University Vietnam and a YouTuber with 300,000 subscribers. Her journey of growth, personal understanding, and a passion for educational pursuits have been recorded by her time at Fulbright.
Concerns are progressively addressed as they are exposed to the new knowledge
Since her middle school years, when Tuong Nguyen observed her classmates struggling with the same aspects of self-study, she formed a strong desire to pursue an education of her own. With the message “Try to become a better version of yourself” and the intention of assisting the youth community in maximizing their individual potential, she was determined to create a YouTube channel devoted to learning and sharing study strategies.
Tuong Nguyen further disclosed that her education at Fulbright University Vietnam has helped her “enlighten” on numerous matters, which has been of great assistance in her YouTube product development pursuits. Motivated by the passion for painting and media production, during her freshman year of college, she enrolled in Mr. Aaron Toronto‘s Film Production course – director of the movie “Brilliant Night!” won the Best Story award from the 2022 Santa Fe Film Festival.
Tuong Nguyen vividly recalled the first lesson: “Visual storytelling techniques are among the most crucial elements when creating a product”. She stated that prior to enrolling in his course, she encountered challenges in comprehending the techniques behind shot compositions that conveyed significant meanings through their camera angles. With the assistance of the instructions and the insightful advice provided by Mr. Aaron, who possesses a multitude of knowledge, her inquiries have been satisfactorily resolved.
The results of those lessons were immediately applied by Tuong Nguyen to her next video or blog products. The changes that make she feel the most clearly are that the video quality is getting better and better, the camera angles look more artistic and “cinematic”, and most importantly, she can use the camera angles to convey information in which the core message reaches the audience without having to say too much like before.
“I feel happy because what I learned at school has been applied a lot to my personal projects. What’s more special is when that knowledge falls right into the things I love and want to develop further.”
From everything around back to one’s self – a journey of understanding
“To compare my journey at Fulbright, I believe that it is a journey where I can step by step maximize my potential and aim for people, because of people.”
While pursuing a degree in Art and Media Studies and maintaining a YouTube channel that focuses primarily on the development of the youth community, Tuong Nguyen realized that the goal in any artistic creation is to take materials from life to raise a life value to the audience. This causes her to have an intense desire to comprehend her surroundings, and this is, by chance, also the genesis of Tuong Nguyen’s new journey: majoring in Social Studies.
“Studying multiple majors based on my interests and graduating with two bachelor’s degrees at Fulbright has brought me great joy, as it allows me to pursue diverse fields that share many similarities. This allowed me to complete studies in sociology, media studies, and the arts within just 4 years.”
When she was in Ethnographic Research Methods class and was required to complete a midterm research paper on human culture, Tuong Nguyen returned to Xom Mut, where she lives, to observe and report. This is one of her most memorable experiences. An intriguing development is that as Tuong Nguyen explores further, she no longer perceives the miserable existence she once believed in. However, due to the inherent sense of community and solidarity in her birthplace, she grows even more in love with it.
“At this time, learning encompasses not only the acquisition of knowledge, but also the process of self-discovery through a deeper understanding of my origins, upbringing, and the cultural influences that shaped me.” Who we are can be profoundly influenced by our living environment”, Tuong Nguyen sentimentally remembered.
As she reflects on her previous journey, Tuong Nguyen feels delighted to be standing at the intersection of two supposedly separate fileds —that of art and humanity. Now, if someone asks who Tuong Nguyen is, she will not hesitate to answer: “I am a small link, connecting two fields I love to bring positive things to everyone.”
Let’s explore majors that Tuong Nguyen is pursuing:
Fourth year student Nguyen Duy Hieu at Fulbright University Vietnam aspires to become a neuroscientist. A scholar and researcher at heart, Hieu follows multiple disciplines at once. He currently majors in Integrated Science, with a focus on Biology and Neuroscience, and minors in Social Studies, focusing on linguistic anthropology. His special research interests lie in learning about the mechanism of sensation, learning and memory, sleep, and neurodegenerative diseases. Hieu has just spent this summer at the National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB) in Japan working on time-lapse imaging of cell cycle progression using FRET-based biosensors.
Hi Hieu, could you lead us through what time-lapse imaging of cell cycle progression is?
Sure thing! Time-lapse imaging of cell cycle progression studies cellular life cycle. To do this, I tagged different protein expressions with fluorescent proteins and documented the cells reactions towards stimulants and how their structure changes as they age.
One fun thing that I did within the scope of this research concerned the optogenetic control of cellular morphology. When I shone light onto HeLa cells, right away its ZO-1 proteins translocated to the cell’s membrane. The speed of reaction was at the blink of an eye. I was truly blown away.
What brought you to NIBB and what did you learn after your time there?
The National Institute for Basic Biology is a research institute in Okazaki, Japan. This is a prominent research institute in Japan with frequent publications in the world’s top scientific journals, including Science, Nature, and PNAS USA. Dr. Nguyen Thi Hong Dung, Fulbright’s faculty in Integrated Sciences, connected me with this one-of-a-kind opportunity. Dr. Hong Dung used to do research at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS) which was adjacent to NIBB. She recommended NIBB to me because she knew the place to be open and welcoming to international students, and because they do great research that undergraduate research assistants can learn a lot from. This turned out to be very true in my case.
I had a great time at NIBB. I got to do science and learnt both wet-lab and dry-lab skills. Specifically, I appreciated the true scientific spirit that everyone at the lab cultivated. I learnt to be respectfully skeptical and to think critically to ask the right questions. I learnt to pay great attention and care to my work. The researchers at NIBB taught me from the smallest details, such as efficient pipetting and sample labelling, to the abstract concepts in science, academia, and life. I reviewed introductory knowledge and got updated on the cutting-edge techniques in biology, from simple gel electrophoresis or Western blot to complicated cell imaging processes. This internship has allowed me the opportunity to reflect on my research career. I’m driven now more than ever to become a researcher and I am more than ready to pursue a scientific career in the future.
What preparation at Fulbright became rewarding when you engaged in scientific research at NIBB?
I gained the right toolkits from my study at Fulbright. Through the coursework at Fulbright, I now understand the fundamental principles of living cells, and how we, as a collective group of organs, respond and adapt to stimuli from the environment. The mindset and skillset from these courses at Fulbright provide necessary toolkits and knowledge for me to conduct my research at NIBB.
Two of my favorite classes in the natural sciences at Fulbright are Principles of Neuroscience, and Research Methods. Principles of Neuroscience was my first engagement in in-depth analyses of how neurobiological factors influence the way we learn, act, think, and feel. What I like the most about the class is its strong emphasis on interactive, interconnected relationships among neurobiological, behavioral, and mental phenomena. With Research Methods, I had the chance to “co-design” the course with Dr. KinHo Chan and 8 other fellow peer students. Together, we designed and adapted the course content, assessment framework, class activities and projects so as to make it accessible to students with different K-12 knowledge backgrounds. It was a very meaningful experience to me!Besides knowledge, Fulbright prepared me with a resilient and can-do mindset. The school also prepares me with the necessary skills to do research anywhere. My study at Fulbright involves a lot of reading and writing. This trained me to learn new topics more effectively. The faculty and friends in Integrated Sciences also offered great help for my learning along the way. I chose to study at Fulbright for its people. I have been lucky to receive mentorship and companionship from many of my teachers and peers. And for them I am truly grateful.
What does the future look like to Nguyen Duy Hieu?
Right now, I’m focusing on my capstone project. I’m using a computational technique in chemistry and structural biology called Molecular Docking to identify the binding sites between a drug molecule (ligand), and a protein (receptor) in the human body. The protein that I focus on is TRPM5. This is an ion channel that plays a significant role in sweet sensing and insulin secretion. These processes have always been known to be impaired in Type II diabetic patients. Recently, scientists have identified a class of compounds that can potentially activate TRPM5 ion channels, thus helping regulate insulin secretion. My project will identify the interaction points between them.
Thank you, Hiếu, for this insightful interview and we wish you all the best on your graduation project and future career!
Recognizing the importance of interdisciplinary thinking in modern society, Trinh Trung Kiên chose to pursue his studies at Fulbright University Vietnam. Here, liberal arts education situated within an international learning environment has enabled Kiên to nurture his passion for the social sciences, history, psychology, and business all at once. This ultimately brought him to the Silicon Valley Impact Camp (SVIC) for the summer of 2023.
Three facts about Kiên:
- One of 7 scholarship recipients from Fulbright to attend the Silicon Valley Impact Camp (SVIC) in the U.S. in 2023.
- Major at Fulbright: Social Sciences
- Passionate about History, Military Science, Psychology, and Entrepreneurship
Why did you choose Fulbright University Vietnam over other choices?
Since high school, I’ve realized the necessity of interdisciplinary thinking. I believe the world of the future demands the ability to do research, to think critically, and a capacity to bridge the knowledge of multiple fields to find innovative solutions to challenges. I was aware of the reputation of Fulbright’s postgraduate program, the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP). I had heard the name “Fulbright” mentioned in President Obama’s speech during his visit to Vietnam in 2016. Additionally, I received positive feedback from two alumni of my high school who were Fulbright students. Therefore, I attended the Fulbright admissions event in Bình Định, and ultimately chose Fulbright’s liberal arts education model for my university journey.
Over the past two years, how have you been able to make use of Fulbright’s liberal arts education?
I take pride in the research I conducted for the Modern Vietnamese Culture and Society (MVCS) course. In this project, I delved into the psychological well-being of post-war Vietnamese veterans. I applied knowledge from history, psychology, and sociology to interview soldiers of the Vietnam War, confirming the existence of PTSD in Vietnamese veterans, and gaining a newfound empathy towards their experience and sacrifices.
I also greatly appreciate how faculty members at Fulbright create a positive and encouraging learning environment. They not only instill knowledge but also foster in us critical thinking ability and the confidence to express our opinions. I still cherish my experience in Comparative Politics with Dr. Nguyễn Thành Trung. Dr. Trung is an expert in the history and politics of Vietnam, the U.S., China, and Southeast Asia. He is further an engaging lecturer, and he dedicated time after class to converse with students. I eagerly participated in discussions and I gained tremendous insights from his guidance.
Most recently, the interdisciplinary knowledge and skills I acquired over two years at Fulbright enabled me to successfully apply for the SVIC program. This program sought young individuals with creative entrepreneurial ideas and project management experience for an intensive learning program on entrepreneurship. Despite majoring in Social Sciences, the multiple subjects I studied at Fulbright such as economics and psychology equipped me with the knowledge and confidence to successfully apply for the program.
SVIC brought you to Silicon Valley? What were some memorable experiences you had while at SVIC?
Absolutely! Silicon Valley Impact Camp is a summer program on innovation and entrepreneurship organized by the University of California at Berkeley. Along with six fellow Fulbright students, I received a scholarship to attend the program from Fulbright and Schoolab. Over the four weeks of the program, I participated in training sessions led by experts in entrepreneurship and management. I learned concepts and methods to transform business ideas into robust enterprises. In addition to the main course at UC Berkeley, I also had the opportunity to study at Stanford University. The program also included industry visits to leading global companies and organizations such as Google, Bloomberg Beta, Swissnex, and more, immersing participants in the “dare to think, dare to do” mindset of Silicon Valley.
SVIC provided me with the opportunity to experience the spirit of the Silicon Valley first hand – a spirit of passionate creativity, of adventure, and non-stop innovation. Participants of the Silicon Valley Impact Camp got the opportunity to listen to pitches from a multitude of start-ups which convened in California and attended the Startup World Cup event at the Computer History Museum. We also successfully completed our business model and pitched ideas to industry experts for their feedback.
This journey also allowed me to forge deeper connections with new friends from Fulbright and from various parts of the world. My peers and I, we attended the World Cup match between the Vietnamese women’s soccer team and the U.S. women’s team. This was an unforgettable memory. On this occasion, I proudly wore the colors of Vietnam to cheer for our team amidst American fans. I felt fortunate to experience this historic event of the national Vietnamese Women’s Soccer Team’s first appearance in the World Cup in such a special setting. Additionally, my friends and I visited world renowned museums together, such as the California Academy of Sciences, the world’s leading interactive science museum – Exploratorium, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Any advice for Fulbright students interested in SVIC in the future?
I hope that any student interested in the next installment of SVIC will apply. I am very grateful to Fulbright and Schoolab for a memorable summer. Even though my major is not technology or business, I believe that Fulbright’s liberal arts education approach and interdisciplinary thinking training have equipped me with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully apply for SVIC. Furthermore, it has enabled me to learn and extract a great deal of value from SVIC. I applied what I learned at Fulbright with the new knowledge from the program, and thus gathered a wealth of experience that I will gradually apply to projects, innovative ventures, and community programs in the future.
To make the most of the resources from SVIC, before participating in the program, you should have a well-thought-out project idea. This way, you can grasp important information for your project throughout the course, and ask insightful questions to experts during pitching sessions to address the project’s critical points.
Much as SVIC is an academic experience, it is also a one-in-a-lifetime networking opportunity which helped me build many meaningful friendships. Fulbright not only unites us students on campus but experiences like SVIC also unite us in a city halfway around the world. The summer of 2023, traveling to the U.S. together with my SVIC friends, cooking together, studying together in California, has been truly a priceless experience in my college years.
If you have the opportunity to participate in SVIC in the coming seasons, I hope you will also spend a lot of time exploring California together with your program mates to build beautiful and meaningful memories.