Fifty–four students will be a part of the inaugural cohort of undergraduates for Fulbright University Vietnam’s Co-Design Year class 2018–2019.
As this is the first year Fulbright recruited undergraduate students, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Ryan Derby-Talbot said that the university aimed to find students who will contribute to building Fulbright’s undergraduate program in this formative year prior to the start of official classes in 2019–2020.
“The Co-Design Year is a special opportunity to do more than take classes. We have been seeking students who can engage in questions under the guidance of faculty and staff to help build a remarkable new university,” Dr. Derby-Talbot said. “The students that we have found are ones that we are confident have the creativity, commitment, and skills to help set up Fulbright for success.”
The admissions process began last September as representatives from Fulbright traveled to thirty-four different schools in twenty-one provinces to invite students to apply. Additionally, Fulbright held three larger events in Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City. Admitted students completed an online application and then were selected for a group interview either in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
“Our evaluation process lasted more than half a year and it was an amazing journey. We got to meet with thousands of students and read the stories of hundreds of them. By the end of this process, we remember them by their accomplishments, things that they are proud of, dreams that they wish to realize, and even fears that they have battled,” said Lê Nguyễn Thiên Hương, Senior Admissions Associate.
“It has been a very competitive process, given that we received so many outstanding applications. I wish we could take more than fifty-six students. But I also know that wherever they go, these students will be successful.
Geographically, the fifty–four incoming students come from eighteen different provinces and cities; twenty percent are from the North, twenty–five percent are from the Central, and fifty–five percent are from the South. Women account for sixty–eight percent of the cohort and males account for thirty–two percent of the cohort.
Furthermore, sixty–four percent of the students accepted received some form of financial aid from the university. Fulbright’s need-based financial aid program is the country’s first program of its kind; it affords qualified admitted students, regardless of their ability to pay, the opportunity to attend Fulbright.
“Many families are surprised when we introduce our financial aid program,” said Vincent Pham, Fulbright’s Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid. “There are no ‘merit requirements’ like a certain GPA or IELTS score required; no stipulation to pay back the university for the aid… Just the hope that recipients of our need-based financial aid program will take to heart where their university funding came from and pay it forward when they graduate.”
Among this incoming cohort is a student who invented a rehab machine for stroke survivors, a student who is fighting for LGBT rights in Vietnam, a student who is working to preserve H’Mong culture, a student who turned “Vội vàng” by Xuân Diệu into a rap song, and a student who used dandelions to cure many Pityriasis Versicolor patients.
“Many of these students were admitted to and received scholarships from multiple universities domestic and abroad, but they chose to become a Co-Designer at Fulbright,” said Lê Nguyễn Thiên Hương. “I am excited to see their presences on campus which will happen incredibly soon.”
Fulbright’s Co-Design Year will begin this September. A portion of students will begin studies this summer in Fulbright’s Bridge Program — an English immersion program to receive additional English and university skills preparation before the official start of the Co-Design Year.