In April 2023, students from Fulbright University Vietnam competed for the first time in two popular academic arenas across the country: the 29th National Mathematical Olympiad and the 11th National Chemistry Olympiad for Students.
Four students from the Math team (Nguyễn Công Thành, Nguyễn Hoàng Ngọc Hà, Nguyễn Hoàng Nhật Tân – Class of 2025, and Quách Thị Xuân Trang – Class of 2023) and four from the Chemistry team (Lê Thảo Tường Vy – Class of 2024, Hồ Bảo Trân, Lê Thị Hồng Hà, and Bùi Trần Vân Anh – Class of 2025) earned valuable lessons from their daring Olympiad journey.
For the Chemistry team, it was the students who initiated participation with the hope of exposing themselves to an academic environment outside of Fulbright. Dr. Nguyễn Thị Trang, a faculty member in Integrated Sciences, assisted the students upon their request to prepare for the exams. They conducted their own thorough research and created a detailed study timeline for both the theoretical and practical modules. Bùi Trần Vân Anh of the Chemistry team shared:
“We emailed Dr. Trang after making a group of five. Since the competition content and format were unfamiliar to us, we just wanted to challenge ourselves. Even though we didn’t earn any big achievements, I’m still very proud of myself and grateful for our valuable lessons with Dr. Trang.”
The faculty were amazing in helping their students prepare for the national Olympiad exams. They provided so much support and helped select four of the best students to represent each team. It’s noteworthy that everything was completed in just three months for Fulbright’s first-ever national showcase.
Quách Thị Xuân Trang, a senior majoring in Literature and minoring in Mathematics, was one of the Math team members. As an English enthusiast in high school and a Literature devotee now, Trang had never considered joining a Math competition. Surprisingly, she discovered a great passion for the subject after taking some courses at Fulbright.
“Studying for a Math competition as a Literature student, I usually felt out of place. Since most other participants are STEM and Computer Science majors, I used to think of myself as an underdog ‘fighting against the strong.’ However, I gained confidence after taking knowledge as my motivation without giving in to peer pressure.”
When Trang was worried that her inadequacy might affect the team, her teammates and teachers showed incredible support and inclusion that cheered her up. During the exam, good interpreter skills from studying Literature helped Trang correctly understand unfamiliar terms in the question.
Currently, Trang is finalizing her capstone project on Quantum fiction – a literary genre associated with Physics’ Quantum Mechanics. Specifically, she focuses on this new genre’s distinctive features and how Quantum Physics is integrated into them.
Fulbright University Vietnam landed one First prize, two Second prizes, and one Third prize in Mathematics and one Third prize and two Fourth prizes in Chemistry for its first time competing in the Olympiads. Embracing the liberal arts philosophy, the University advocates for students to step out of their comfort zone and apply interdisciplinary knowledge to seek self-exposure and development opportunities. In the congratulatory ceremony for the participating students on May 5, Dr. Trang expressed her joy: “I am super delighted and proud to accompany my students on their self-exploration journey!”
Minh Tâm – Phương Mai