Mai Duc Hieu and Duong Hong Nhung, both members of the Bachelor of Business (International Business) program’s first graduating cohort, were presented with this year’s President’s Award at recent graduation ceremonies.
The prestigious RMIT Vietnam President’s Awards are presented to the undergraduate students who embody all that RMIT Vietnam would wish its graduates to exemplify: high academic achievement, social responsibility, and service to the university community.
Appreciating the journey
In his acceptance speech Hieu encouraged fellow graduates to use all the experiences acquired during their time at RMIT Vietnam to bravely start a new journey.
“At the near end of my university life, I find myself not at the finish line, but at the starting point of an even rougher marathon, and yet I feel more accomplished than ever. I think this resonates with many of you here,” said Hieu, the award winner for the graduate cohort at Saigon South campus.
“It does not matter where you start, but how fast you grow. And whenever in fear or in doubt, just take the next small step.”
Hieu shared that his predestined journey to RMIT Vietnam began when he was just 13 years old. Listening to his grandmother talk about her exciting visit to RMIT Vietnam subconsciously inspired Hieu to pursue his degree at this university.
“Six years later, I applied for the Specific Discipline Scholarship, and luckily got it to join the pioneering cohort of the Bachelor of Business (International Business) at RMIT Vietnam,” Hieu said.
Since his first day at university, Hieu believed his experience would help him grow from a timid, nerdy boy into a confident, ambitious and enthusiastic young man.
He grew as he took on leadership positions at AIESEC RMIT and RMIT Business Club, and as he won a Student Startups Competition. He broadened his perspective as an exchange student at Babson College in the US, and developed his leadership skills as an intern at the SEO-Vietnam fellowship program and as a participant in the Southeast Asian Global Undergraduate Leaders’ Programme.
After these experiences, Hieu learnt that change starts from within.
“Getting an HD or winning a competition feels good, I admit, but I felt a stronger sense of accomplishment when I overcame my fears, dedicated the best of myself to sail through the uncertainties, embraced lessons learnt, and did things differently and better than what I had done before,” Hieu said.
Hieu is now working on a side project called Bamboo Builders, a social venture which aims to reduce educational inequality by mobilising passionate undergraduate students to empower high school students in rural areas.
In addition, Hieu is trying his best to give back to the RMIT community by sharing with others his experience in “making the most out of RMIT”.
Being authentic, fearless
Duong Hong Nhung accepted the President’s Award at a graduation ceremony held at the National Convention Centre in Hanoi.
Reflecting on her time at RMIT Vietnam, Nhung said her journey was about growing and unlocking her potential.
“When I was in high school, I was reserved and did not open to the outside world. I liked following what had been said or done since I felt safe to do so. But I have changed,” Nhung said.
“The philosophy [to do things differently and believe in yourself] has inspired me to fulfill my desire to do something different, and for the very first time to create impact on society.”
Nhung co-founded a non-profit organisation named CHẠM which provides art and music classes for children at hospitals in Hanoi. After two years of operation, Nhung expanded the model to four hospitals in Hanoi, developed the organisation from five to 120 members, and raised a sustainable financial source from an initial budget of only $US10.
Nhung also urged her fellow graduates to have the courage to take on risks.
“Go where there are no guarantees. Get out of your comfort zone, even if it means being uncomfortable,” Nhung said.
“What you need to prepare is a fearless mind and can-do attitude to overcome all challenges.”
From her very first day at RMIT Vietnam, Nhung had to train herself not to avoid “unsafe” activities, and instead to engage in experiences which allow her to discover her full potential. She took a leadership role on the RMIT Vietnam Student Ambassador Team and participated in volunteer activities organised by the University’s Student Recruitment unit.
To end her acceptance speech, Nhung shared that she is using the values and key lessons learnt at RMIT to pursue her career path and to accept new challenges as a Management Trainee at Unilever.
“I know the world outside may be scary, tough and competitive, but I believe with your identity and true values, nothing is impossible,” Nhung said.
“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future.”
Story: Hoang Ha