Coming as different sets of personalities pursuing two distinctive development pathways, both Lê Kiều Oanh and Lê Quốc Chí – the recent Panasonic Scholarship winners have a special place in their hearts for the community. And in their own way, they strive to give back.
On September 27, Lê Kiều Oanh and Lê Quốc Chí, the two Co-Designers at Fulbright University Vietnam received the highly competitive Panasonic Scholarship Program for Undergraduate Students 2022.
Surpassing 350 strong candidates from 65 universities across Vietnam, Oanh and Chí were among the 20 recipients of 30.000.000 VND. In addition, they will have great opportunities to participate in Panasonic’s skills development training workshops in communications, problem-solving and time management, just to name a few.
Lê Kiều Oanh: “I feel truly happy when I get to see the smiling faces of children”
Lê Kiều Oanh is a student filled with positivity and enthusiasm. At a young age, she has already involved in several organizations. Oanh was the Business Development Leader at EM-IN, Sales and Product Manager at Nook Renovation, and later joined McKinsey & Company and worked on a public sector development plan. Most recently, Oanh assists in strategic development and project management at Koidra Inc. Oanh also supports the establishment of many university-wide clubs and initiatives at Fulbright.
Among many of her projects, EM-IN is the nearest and deareast to Oanh’s heart. EM-IN, a social enterprise developing and distributing Emotional Intelligence (EQ) toolkits for children, was founded during her very first days of Fulbright’s Co-Design year 2018-2019. In the class “Ethics in Context: East Asian Ethical Philosophy in Vietnam, the Region, and Beyond”, led by Dr. Nam Nguyen, Director of the Vietnam Studies Center and Faculty of Vietnam Studies, the students were to initiate a community service. Oanh, back then being a member of the Fulbright Psychology Club, joined her peers on a field trip to Đà Lạt to introduce EQ to 30 orphans.
“We were deeply touched. We were happy to be able to help those unfortunate kids during the visit. But we also regretted that we couldn’t stay any longer to practice emotional intelligence with them,” Oanh shared. “That gave us the idea to create an EQ toolkit that children can self-educate and practice among themselves.”
This was the main reason why EM-IN’s evolved from a school project to a professional social enterprise. Oanh, together with her fellows, had made constant efforts in researching, developing, and prototyping to officially launch two boardgame toolkits, namely “Universal Children Day” and recently “Biết Mình Biết Ta” (Know Yourself, Understand Others).
Consisting of multiple cards identifying different types of emotions, scenarios and prompting questions, “Biết Mình Biết Ta” turns an educational EQ session into an exciting quest. Although the original target user was children aged 8 to 15, the toolkit in fact brings all family members closer together and fosters a mutual understanding. EM-IN thus won hearts and support of the parents themselves, who later help expand its outreach to potential customers.
Previously in September 2021, Oanh and EM-IN were awarded the Fulbright’s Community Change-Maker Scholarship funded by generous donors, among them was Temasek. The grant was a tremendous help to EM-IN’s very first product distribution. Embracing the sustainable model of a social enterprise, EM-IN always donates most of its profit to orphanages across Vietnam.
Alongside with her role in Business Development and Operations at EM-IN, Oanh constantly engaged in a wide array of startups and community-minded projects. During a gap year in university, Oanh became a vital member of Nook Renovation, a home renovation startup using a tech-enabled platform. From the early days of doing market research as an intern, Oanh had proudly earned herself the title of Product Manager and later, Sales Manager there.
After a significant project at McKinsey & Company through Manpower Group to research and propose a provincial development plan, Oanh returns her focus to Fulbright. At the same time, Oanh is now a part-time Project Manager at Koidra Inc., a world-leading AIoT-for-manufacturing startup based in Seattle (USA) to transform high-impact industries.
Her young age is no barrier to Oanh’s quest for the breadth and depth of business overview in Vietnam. “By taking part in different roles across disciplines, I can continuously round out myself. I can keep contributing to meaningful social causes like EM-IN. Since I am a Fulbright student, I always want to give back to the community in whatever I do and make the world a better place,” said humbled Oanh.
“In the next 5-7 years, I will continue to accumulate my work experience and professional networks and grow my financial capabilities. One day, I wish to develop EM-IN at scale – one that provides care and comfort to many more disadvantaged children. I feel truly happy when I get to see all the children’s smiling faces that EM-IN has helped over the years.”
Lê Quốc Chí: “Economic indicators mean nothing without the deeply-rooted interpretations to Vietnamese context.”
Chí comes with a confident demeanor and much maturity for his age. Chí is persistent. Chí trains his resilience perpetually. Chí thinks of himself as a marathon runner. And Chí believes there is no challenge too great.
As one of 54 students who received the Fulbright Founding Scholarship, Chí has grown closer to not only lecturers but also University Council members during his Co-Design year. Among them stands “cô Thủy” – Ms. Đàm Bích Thủy, President of Fulbright. Recently, Chí was deeply moved by one of her answers during the Elle.vn interview: “I want to see Fulbright students switch their majors 2 or 3 times during their 4 years at university, because it shows that they have made experiments and they have carefully considered their options.” Perhaps this was the much-needed encouragement for the brave student to officially make his decision of changing major from Computer Science to Economics.
Chí takes the flexibility of designing his own curriculum to most use. Along with the Economics classes, Chí also enrolled in some of the classes in Applied Mathematics and Social Studies majors to develop an interdisciplinary mindset. Thanks to this self-adapted syllabus, he gets to practice analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data, which horns his interpretation and linkage skills.
In particular, the “Sustainable Development: Science and Industry” class, lectured by Dr. Nguyen Thi Trang – a Faculty Member in Integrated Sciences, has inspired Chí to actively seek the correlation between macroeconomics and the real-life socio-economic status in Vietnam.
“Economics allows me to read complex indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP), total import-export turnover, energy prices, or foreign direct investment (FDI). Nevertheless, they mean nothing without the deeply-rooted interpretations to Vietnamese context,” asserted Chí.
Among many fields of Economics, Chí pays special attention to and made extensive research into the seventeen sustainable development goals, with a focus on applying renewable energies to promote economic development. “Economic indicators are sometimes too complicated to explain to my family. So, I usually share with them my passion via an electricity bill,” shared Chí.
“There are two ways to lessen the burden of a monthly electricity bill for most families in Vietnam. One, people must use electricity more efficiently to reduce the cost, such as turning off appliances when not in use. Second, they should install renewable energy devices to save electricity.”
Chí always seeks opportunities to enhance his knowledge, such as becoming a teaching assistant to Dr. Graeme Walker, a Faculty Member in Economics at Fulbright. During the last Fall semester of 2021-2022, Chí bridged the gap between Dr. Walker and many junior students. He facilitated online and offline group activities, ensuring the highest teaching and learning quality amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only excel at his study, Chí is also the President of the Fulbright Tennis Club. Chí has actively connected and successfully established a community of young like-minded people who are passionate or interested in tennis. Chí invited the coach over and hosted weekly training sessions. The Tennis Club has made a positive impact and promoted a balanced lifestyle between studies and sports, hence, fostering physical and mental health among the Fulbright community.
Chí is one of a few competitive members of the highly selective Venture Fellows Program (VFP), a program initiated by the Fulbright’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI). During two summers with VFP, Chí was a Market Researcher & Consultant Intern at CoderSchool and then Project Manager at VNG Group. In spite of their distinctive scale and working environment, CoderSchool and VNG both share an entrepreneurial philosophy in their operations. “The summer internships at two different tech startup companies helped me gain valuable insight into their roles in the Vietnamese economy. Apart from being the driving forces for economic development, they are also key agents who lead positive impacts in society through innovative technology products.”
When asked about the difficulties that Chí encountered, the young man hesitated and humbly shared: “For me, there is no challenge too great.” Chí explains, “I accept that I live in an era of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. That’s why difficulties are inevitable. But I always try to make today better than yesterday. Just like a marathon runner, I embrace resilience above all.”