CIMB ASEAN Scholarship is a prestigious scholarship for students from Southeast Asian countries, sponsored by CIMB Group. This year, Le Khanh Ha completely won the judges over with their unique personality, talent, and sincerity, earning for themselves a full ride scholarship for the remaining three years of study at Fulbright University Vietnam worth over $70,000.
Always be yourself
CIMB scholarships are awarded to students with outstanding achievements in both academics, extracurricular activities, and personal qualities, with special focus on problem solving skills and community-oriented initiatives. Out of nearly 10,000 applications this year, only 16 candidates were selected by CIMB Group, with Le Khanh Ha receiving the only scholarship awarded in Vietnam. When asked about “tips and tricks” to win scholarships, Ha humbly shared:
“People often say that the winner writes the truth, but I don’t believe it. I don’t think there’s a recipe for everyone, because each of us will have our own ways of success. In the final round, when standing in front of the judges, I was really nervous. Sometimes, those carefully crafted answers could sound scripted and do not portray you in the best light, so instead, trust your gut and answer with your intuition.”
The impression that any who have met Khanh Ha, or Kha as their friends usually call them, would get is their friendliness and warmth. No need for rhetoric or flashy appearance, Ha makes others feel good with their kind, considerate, and humble attitude. Khanh Ha confessed that after the trauma they’ve been through, they always try to pay attention to emotions and put themselves in the shoes of those around them.
However, one of Ha’s biggest weaknesses is being too strict with themselves. Ha said, there are times when they were being too harsh on themselves with self-pressure, self-criticism, inflicting stress on themselves. Like people their age, Khanh Ha also went through some rough moments, struggling with uncertainties and finds it hard to express themselves.
“I am quite introverted and reserved, as opposed to other Fulbrighters who are more sociable and have strong personalities. There were times when I was so shy that I kept my guard up and didn’t dare to speak my opinion. But then I realized that, being untalkative doesn’t mean that I have nothing to say. When I don’t feel safe enough to speak up, I often reserve myself, question and brood for a long time. After a process of reflecting and organizing my thoughts, I will be ready to share my ideas with the world,” Khanh Ha said.
“Ha impressed us not only by their outstanding academic achievements and extracurricular activities, but what makes Ha stand out amongst the pool of candidates is their personality and sincerity, ” said CIMB Bank Vietnam representative Le Hien Trang. “Ha knows what their weaknesses are and always tries their best to find ways to improve themselves. That’s what really convinced us. ”
Changes come from the smallest things
One of the criteria that CIMB looks for in candidates is the factor that creates change – a changemaker. According to Ha, it is not really that complicated.
“To me, ‘changemaker’ simply means giving the best efforts to do one’s job. For example, as a student, the most important thing is to perform well in school, that in itself already is helping others. Such small impacts can add up and bring positive changes to the community,” Ha expressed. Khanh Ha is currently a content collaborator for the X Schooling Project – a project aimed at reducing inequality in education by helping the Co Tu ethnic minority in Quang Nam. They also recently completed an internship at PeaceTrees Vietnam, an organization dedicated to clearing explosive remnants and healing post-war traumas.
Khanh Ha represents a new generation of young people who are gradually becoming more aware of their social responsibility and actively participating in solving the shared challenges of their community. However, the unpredictable changes of the modern world require new and multi-dimensional problem-solving approaches and thinking.
“I think, considering the current situation and the pace at which our world is developing, everything becomes so interconnected that the borders between different fields are getting blurry. That is why we need to ‘think without the box’, which means we cannot limit ourselves to any one field or skill,” Ha said.
Khanh Ha shares that the academic environment at Fulbright has helped them practice their interdisciplinary thinking as well as their teamwork skills. In order to get the scholarship, Ha had to go through five rounds, of which, the fourth round required groups of contestants from all over Southeast Asia to think together to solve a difficult situation in three hours. Thanks to their teamwork experience with friends from very different backgrounds, personalities and strengths at Fulbright, Ha easily passed this round.
Constantly moving forward
CIMB ASEAN Scholarship is an effort of the CIMB Banking Group to cultivate young talents in the region, increase knowledge in Southeast Asian communities and contribute to the sustainable development of the community. In addition to covering for all study costs, CIMB is also committed to supporting career orientation, building a global network, and improving comprehensive skills for scholarship recipients.
After graduation, Khanh Ha will have the opportunity to work at CIMB’s branches all over Asia, but for the time being, they still have three years of study at Fulbright with countless plans and ambitions. With Ha, the most important part of the journey is to keep a spirit of optimism and perseverance so as not to give up when faced with difficulties.
“When I encounter obstacles, my motivation to continue forward is the belief that every problem has a solution. When I’m overwhelmed by emotions, I often write down my thoughts so that I can calmly rearrange and find a way out of the problems I’m facing. Constantly moving forward, this is my principle that I think is also what CIMB is looking for.
Moving forward is not as simple as getting up and brushing off all the burdens on your shoulders. To me, it means living everyday with all of my strength. Rhetorically speaking, if I am in a dark room, as long as I believe there is a door somewhere and I keep trying, eventually I will be able to open the door and let sunlight into the room,” Khanh Ha confided.
About CIMB Bank Vietnam
CIMB Bank Vietnam Limited (CIMB Vietnam) belongs to CIMB Group – the leading international banking group in Southeast Asia with over 90 years of expertise and experience, and a network of more than 37,000 employees in 15 countries around the world. In Vietnam, CIMB Bank is headquartered in Hanoi, providing a wide range of banking products and services for individuals and businesses.
About Fulbright University Vietnam:
Fulbright University Vietnam is Vietnam’s first independent, not-for-profit, liberal arts university. We are an expanding international team of educational innovators, with deep roots in Vietnam, strong political and financial backing, and connections to educational institutions around the world. We believe in the power of collaboration, transdisciplinary thinking, and risk-taking, and we understand that effective education requires putting students at its center. Globally integrated but deeply embedded in Vietnamese society, Fulbright is dedicated to providing a world-class education, utilizing the latest advancements in institutional design, teaching, learning, technology and other fields to create an institution that is both innovative and globally relevant. Importantly, Fulbright is committed to serving Vietnamese society through rigorous research and responsible civic engagement.