RMIT alumnus and Chevening scholar sets her heart on design for social good

RMIT alumnus and Chevening scholar sets her heart on design for social good

Wanting to be an inspiring role model who dares to dream and turns dreams into action, who can connect with others and influence them to achieve things greater than themselves, RMIT Vietnam alumnus Nguyen Hoang Yen has worked her way from shabby shelters in Saigon slums to RMIT Vietnam’s Opportunity Scholarship and currently the Chevening Scholarship.

Alt Text is not present for this image, Taking dc:title 'news-1-rmit-alumni-and-chevening-scholar-sets-her-heart-on-design-for-social-good' RMIT Vietnam Bachelor of Design (Multimedia Design) alumni and Opportunity Scholarship recipient Nguyen Hoang Yen successfully secured one of 2022 Chevening Scholarships to study Master of Art in Media, Campaigning and Social Change at the University of Westminster, UK.

From a heart full of gratitude

Dreaming of a brighter future was a luxury for the Bachelor of Design (Multimedia Design) graduate who lived in a tiny boat along one of the small canals in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, and later was all by herself after both her parents and grandmother passed away when she was very young.

That couldn’t stop the young girl from heading for the light.

Yen started to dream about her future and learnt about something called ‘design’ after receiving a life-changing compliment from a documentary filmmaker and social activist Leslie Wiener.

“You are a great designer” was what Ms Wiener told Yen when she was amazed by how the 10-year-old girl created a toy house from wastepaper and used plastic bags.

And Yen’s diligence and eagerness to learn impressed not only volunteer teachers and donors, but also RMIT Vietnam’s Scholarship Committee.

Yen made the most out of every moment at RMIT Vietnam and showed an amazing transformation since receiving one of the first three RMIT Opportunity Scholarships in 2014.

Alt Text is not present for this image, Taking dc:title 'news-2-rmit-alumni-and-chevening-scholar-sets-her-heart-on-design-for-social-good' Yen (pictured, back row, third from left) with her Frisbee team in the UK.

The young girl actively engaged in various environmental and social extracurricular activities at the university and was an active member of RMIT Vietnam’s Frisbee Club. In 2016, she applied for the University’s Exchange program to Spain to learn about social development issues which served her well in her ambition to create meaningful and valuable designs for the community.

“The education and networks I acquired from RMIT truly transformed me and provided a solid foundation for me to advance my career and to be here today as one of this year Chevening Scholars,” Yen said.

Yen is very grateful for all the good people she’s met in her life.

“That network of caring, support and inspirational people, from the teachers at the local charity for children – the Smile Group, to the staff at RMIT Vietnam and my most recent employer – the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU), has changed my life of poverty into one of growth and potential,” she said.

“They have inspired me to use knowledge and skillsets I’ve learnt to contribute to society.”

To the pay-it-forward aspiration

“What are my values in the [design] industry?” has been the question that kept Yen up at night for many years.

The answer started to emerge when Yen worked at OUCRU as a Media and Communication Coordinator where she had a chance to develop and lead public engagement projects and experienced first-hand how her work can be impactful and beneficial to the community.

“As I lost my parents to one of the social issues, the healthcare sector always draws my attention,” Yen shared.

“During the pandemic, I spearheaded two major social campaigns, including the COVID-19 Digital Diaries and #I’mVaccinated, which made me realise the gap in media and communication capacity that I can help to close."

With the COVID-19 Digital Diaries initiative, by being a leader who could connect and empathise with others, Yen enabled the production of 40 participatory documentaries that gave marginalised communities a voice, which resulted in more financial and medical support for them.

Meanwhile, through the social media campaign -- #I’mVaccinated, Yen together with her team reached over 80,000 young audiences and produced short informative videos and podcasts about getting COVID-19 vaccine to engage the older population, which all boosted the vaccination rate significantly.

“The involvement in those impactful campaigns helped me clearly define my core values of design for the social good, not just any product,” Yen said.

“I want to become a liaison who facilitates the connection between healthcare professionals and people in the community. Particularly, I want to become a media and communications specialist who can take the academic, and sometimes, dry information from healthcare professionals and researchers and translate them into content that the masses can easily digest and remember, ultimately influencing people to change in ways that benefit our community.”

Alt Text is not present for this image, Taking dc:title 'news-3-rmit-alumni-and-chevening-scholar-sets-her-heart-on-design-for-social-good' Yen (pictured, right) with Nguyen Thanh Vinh who is also an RMIT alumni and 2022 Chevening Scholar.

Now busy with her first months studying Master of Art in Media, Campaigning and Social Change at the University of Westminster under the 2022 Chevening Scholarship program, Yen believes with the world-renowned education in the UK and access to global world leaders and innovators from the Chevening community, she will gain worthwhile knowledge and experience to achieve her overarching goal of making a long-lasting impact in Vietnam’s public health sector.

Story: Ha Hoang

  • Scholarships

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