Fulbright University Vietnam will welcome fifty-four inaugural undergraduates at our First Convocation on Sunday, September 9, 2018. These students will begin the Co-Design Year 2018-2019, which will lay the foundation for next year’s academic program.
We have been eagerly waiting for this Convocation when we started our journey to find our first undergraduates about a year ago. Traveling across Vietnam’s provinces and cities, we searched for students at different schools, each time asking, “How do we find the gems in the rough?”
Departing from the traditional college entrance exam, Fulbright’s approach was innovative and unprecedented in Vietnam as we looked for students with real potential rather than simply basing our selection on past test scores. Our five months of searching were filled with memorable moments and emotions. Students share their energy, ideas, and passion for the future through their applications, giving us an idea of their vision and aspiration to contribute to the future of this country.
We kept the handwritten letters that accumulated in our office; some of them were written right after a first encounter with Fulbright. Their words pulsed with a sense of liberation, passion, ambition, longing and expectations of a university education, concerns over choosing a future path, and sometimes even their feelings of failure, hardships, and moments when they overcame challenges.
It was not only the students that had tough questions for Fulbright. We received many questions from parents because of Fulbright’s unique place as the first liberal arts institution in Vietnam. They also shared with us their worries and concerns on how we could help offer their children an opportunity of a top-quality university experience. As we got the chance to visit their homes during the Financial Aid interviews, we learned about their personal stories in-depth.
We were fortunate enough to have met these people throughout our journey last year. Some of our Co-Designers are those who have been with us every step of the way. They joined us at many different events to have a better understanding of Fulbright. They even helped us recruit many of our very best faculty members through a series of faculty interviews we held. These students are the ones who possess a vision of what they want out of a university education and do not hesitate to realize this vision.
Being a new university, these experiences helped reinforce our belief in our mission of offering a not-for-profit education to the young generation of Vietnam.
Dr. Dinh Vu Trang Ngan, Director of Fulbright’s Undergraduate Program was part of the team that traveled to more than twenty-five provinces to talk about Fulbright. She shared: “Our Co-Designers have trusted us with their future. We will have to give them the opportunity to take ownership of their learning and shape their ambitions and dreams.”
“The Co-Design Year will lay the foundation for Fulbright University Vietnam. Fulbright’s mission is reinforced by not only the fifty-five Co-Designers at this First Convocation, but also students from all over Vietnam, whom we have met and those we have yet to meet. Their trust and support helped turn the idea of building a world-class university in Vietnam into reality,” said Dam Bich Thuy, President of Fulbright University Vietnam.
At Fulbright’s First Convocation, distinguished guests, friends, and philanthropists who have supported us, shared in our difficulties, and followed Fulbright’s growth step-by-step will come together to welcome our first university undergraduates.