Celebrating the journey to graduation 2024 - Celebrating the journey to graduation 2024
Chantal Gamble
24 May, 2024

Celebrating the journey to graduation 2024

Celebrating the journey to graduation 2024 - Celebrating the journey to graduation 2024
Since our first graduating class in 2006, 19 classes have graduated from the British International School HCMC. In that first year, just 7 students were graduating, fast forward to 2024, and our graduating class now boasts 102 ambitious young people ready to take on the world.

Michael Deveney Head of Secondary in 2006 shared some words that we believe would still resonate with our class of 2024 today, despite the speech being given nearly two decades ago:

 “I would like to wish our first batch of graduates the best of luck as they make their way in the world. It is an exciting time when you fly the coop; that heady mix of sad farewells and a nervous wait for exam results sure makes for “interesting times”.We share that keen anticipation of the jeopardy of circumstance - just where will they all end up?”. 

Well, our class of 2024 have received offers from Cambridge, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Toronto, New York and Edinburgh universities, among many more. A remarkable 12 students hold offers from one of the top 10 universities in the world, it’s certain that they will go on to success, wherever they “end up”.

The ceremony

On Saturday 18th May, 102 students, split into two groups for two ceremonies, made their way to the Park Hyatt in District 1. Over at least 14 years this venue has witnessed thousands of BIS students graduate. Following in the footsteps of their predecessors, our Year 13s prepared to join the outstanding alumni of BIS HCMC.
A nervous yet electric energy filled the air as students, supported by their dedicated teachers, donned their caps and gowns. Below them, seated in the ceremony hall, proud parents, teachers, and friends awaited their arrival. Anticipation hung heavy in the air, a mix of excitement for the future and the bittersweet pang of goodbyes to come. In just a few months, these graduates will be scattered across the globe, embarking on new university adventures.

Inspirational words were shared by our Principal, Mr Anthony Rowlands, Mr Stephen Kay, Head of Secondary, and Ms Jane Hall, Head of Sixth Form. We also heard from our special guest the British Consul General for HCMC, Ms Emily Hamblin, learning more about her own experiences with the IB and beyond. From the cohort, we heard from our Head Students – Anya, Edric, Oscar, and Michelle who reflected on their shared journey. 

Our outgoing Head Students (in the middle; Edric, Michelle, Oscar and Anya) with our Year 12 newly appointed Head Students (from left to right; Serena, Tim, Atom, and JaeYeon)

One of the ceremony's most touching moments was the "baby video." Seeing the Class of 2024 in their graduation gowns, juxtaposed with their baby photos, was a powerful reminder of their incredible journey. These students, many of whom started at BIS as early as 2 or 3 years old in the Foundation Stages, have blossomed into confident, caring global citizens. We affectionately call these lifelong BIS learners "lifers," and with good reason – BIS has been their second home for most of their lives.

Just a month ago, our lifers, dressed in their book day costumes, revisited the Early Years and Infant Campus. They reconnected with their former teachers, and played with the children who were in their place 16 years ago – three of whom are children of BIS alumni! This is the impact that BIS has on the lives of those it touches; be it our graduating students, our longstanding teachers who have been with us for over 15-20 years, or our alumni, who become parents and start the BIS journey all over again. 


As Head of Sixth Form, Ms Jane Hall started her speech “I am sure that every single person in this room would agree that the British International School, Ho Chi Minh City is a very special place and that we are all proud to have our individual links to it.” BIS truly is a special place and will hold a place in the hearts of our graduates for years to come.

Whether you joined the school over a decade ago, or just a few years ago, graduation is a momentous occasion and a celebration of years of learning. Oscar, one of our head students put it perfectly in his speech “Through our time at BIS, each and every single one of us has embarked on our own unique journey, starting from different points and facing our own obstacles along the way. Yet despite these differences, we have all embraced every step of our paths.”

Celebrating excellence

A big part of the ceremony was celebrating the outstanding academic achievement of our graduates. Alongside over 30 subject-specific awards received by those students at the top of their fields, we announced the special prizes for 2024. 

Congratulations to the following graduates on their incredible achievements:

These achievements are in part a testament to the people who have helped shape our graduates, their teachers, parents and friends. 


“As we stand on the threshold of a new chapter, it's important that we express our gratitude to those who have supported us through these years” - Oscar, Head Student

This theme of gratitude resonated throughout all the student speeches.


Michelle, another Head Student, showcased a powerful symbol – a medallion her father received at his own graduation in 1994. "Holding it," she said, "reminded me of the world that he began building for me long before I was even born, past his marriage and personal growth. Every career move, choice, investment, failure, and success, they were all dedicated to me and dedicated to his children. So as children, we rarely stop to think about what came before us, what efforts made us who we are. Now it's up to us to be responsible, to choose our paths, seek success and withstand failure. The past guides us from one generation to the next.” Her story beautifully highlights the sacrifices and the support that parents give to ensure their children have the best education and opportunities.

Anya, another Head Student, expressed her deep appreciation for the teachers who nurtured her academic journey.

“Your excitement for your subjects is contagious, you have inspired us to be curious, diligent and critical, leaving no space for doubt in ourselves and our ability to thrive at university and beyond.” Her words capture the impact of our world-class teachers who ignite a love for learning.



Finally, Anya acknowledged the invaluable bond with her fellow graduates:
“Your unwavering resilience, determination and humour has been a joy and inspiration. I cannot imagine anyone I would rather have gone through such an important part of my life with.”

Carrying the BIS legacy

Alongside the people who shaped them, our graduates carry the enduring symbols, visions, and values of a BIS education. Mr Anthony Rowlands spoke on the BIS Aide Memoire, a constant presence throughout the school, embodying the core values that both shaped them and will continue to guide them throughout their lives.


“Remember something that you will have seen so often around the school throughout the time that you've been there at BIS; the Aide Memoir.  Wherever you may be in the future,  I hope you always show integrity, care, and respect. Always be prepared to inquire, reflect, and show great perseverance. Go on confidently into the next stage of your journey, but always continue to be global citizens learning together.  And don't forget what the aide memoir stands for and what BIS means to you.” 

Mr Stephen Kay, Head of Secondary, spoke on our BIS crest, a symbol of our heritage. 


“So, graduates, as you plan and prepare to head off around the world, what might you carry with you from BIS? Along with all your stories and your friendships, the skills you have learnt, maybe you could also take something simple, yet powerful, something you’ve carried with you every day as a BIS student:

From our school crest; The Lion – Symbolising our British values and the importance we place on rigour, excellence and achievement in a holistic setting. The Sao La – Symbolising our Asian context and that we must always work to protect that which is precious to us. The book and the lotus flower – symbolising learning opportunities and growth.  As you travel around the world, may the Lion give you strength and courage, the Sao La remind you of your growth in Vietnam and finally, through our school motto -  Crescat Scientia - May your knowledge always grow.”


Embracing uncertainty

Another key theme, in this ever-changing world - was uncertainty. Edric, our head student, commented “ I'm just an 18-year-old. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. None of us know what's going to happen a year now, five years now, or even ten years now.” 

Of course, this sentiment resonated throughout the ceremony, reflecting a truth that transcends generations at this stage in life. This uncertainty, however, isn't something to fear, but rather an opportunity to embrace. You don’t have to have it all figured out. Emily Hamblin, UK Consul General shared her own experiences with uncertainty, how she herself felt pressure after the IB and didn’t know what she wanted to do. She shared that over the years she has changed her mind several times, from an accountant to working for an NGO in Nepal and now she stands before us representing the UK in HCMC, with many decisions yet to come in her career. Her story is a powerful testament to the fact that life is a continuous exploration, one that doesn't require a pre-written script. The key, lies in resilience, perseverance, and unwavering confidence – qualities instilled within every BIS student.

Mentioning expeditions around the world Oscar, noted how they “have constantly pushed [themselves] beyond [their] comfort zones” embracing the “challenges and joys of helping to build schools in Cambodia, exploring the caves of Vietnam, or braving the unfamiliar waters of the Philippines.” 
“Perhaps the greatest challenge we faced together was navigating through the turbulent waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. In face of uncertainty and adversity, we stood united as a team supporting each other through the hardest times. Coming together today is a testament to the collective perseverance and dedication we all share.” 


While the world is more uncertain now than ever, we wholeheartedly believe in this cohort to go and make a difference, shake things up and be leaders in whatever field they choose. Michelle’s speech ended on a particularly poignant note “And I hope that after witnessing the world left for us, we will continue on to create our own.”

Oscar also ended on an evocative note, putting a more positive spin on F.Scott Fitzgerald's famous ending to The Great Gatsby, he said “And so we will beat on boats against the current borne forward ceaselessly towards our chosen destinations, where I'm sure every single one of you will go on to be outstanding people.”

We couldn’t be prouder of this graduating class of 2024. Their resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit have inspired us all. We can't wait to witness the incredible futures they will forge, knowing a part of BIS will always be with them.