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  • A Premium Education

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    British International School Hanoi| School

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    British Internatinal School Hanoi Our Staff 2018

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    British International School Hanoi Get in Touch 2018

Meet our alumni: Le Tran Thu Thao – Class of 2016

Le Tran Thu Thao graduated from the British International School Hanoi in 2016 and was a prominent member of the BIS student community. Thao is one of the school's earliest graduates and has never forgotten a day at BIS Hanoi. 

Thao spent four years at Temple University in the US, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture. After completing her studies, she returned to Vietnam and is now more than ready for her next chapter in life. With a positive mindset, she feels excitement and eagerness to discover every aspect of life - even the unknown! Her motto is "Treat life as an experiment, and you are the scientist."

Le Tran Thu Thao - Class of 2016
What were your favourite subjects at school and why? 

I studied Mathematics and the three Sciences. I enjoyed the small classroom sizes and the different personalities that each of my teachers had, each one adding their own ‘spice' or individual flair to their teaching. 

That said, the lessons I consistently looked forward to every week would have to be P.E. As much as I loved Science, I equally enjoyed spending time outside the classroom: running around, trying out different sports and letting off some steam. I loved having the opportunity to play team sports as well as individual events.  

It was a fantastic way of learning to bond with my classmates and teachers in a different setting, with friendly guidelines, and minimal rules. By providing a much-needed balance with my other academic studies, those lessons definitely helped me to perform better.  

Which university did you get accepted into? Why did you choose that university/ course? 

I obtained my Bachelor's of Science in Horticulture from Temple University in the United States. Even though it wasn’t within the highly-ranked schools, Temple was a good fit for me because I knew I would be able to follow the academic program without having too many difficulties.

Le Tran Thu Thao - Class of 2016

Temple also satisfied my other criteria; it was based in a city and had a big student body (40k!) from social backgrounds similar to mine, meaning that it would be easier to make friends. The majors that Temple offered didn’t impact my decision too much because, at that point, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study anyway. 

Another key factor as to why I chose Temple was because they had offered me a full-tuition scholarship (the biggest package from any school). Looking back, I am still happy with the decision I made. 

How did BIS Hanoi prepare you to get into your university? 

In September of Year 13, BIS held a school fair with representatives from the US. This gave me the opportunity to look at the application process for this part of the world and the scholarship prospects on offer. The school fair made me realise that I too had a chance - and that it was worth a shot.  

The teachers at BIS Hanoi helped me develop the ability to work independently and channel my efforts towards what I wanted to achieve; these skills helped me greatly during the application process and have stuck with me ever since.
What did you love about your university? 

Temple is a public university with a whopping 40 thousand students. This meant that I had a lot of options when it came to choosing a major, as well as courses from different fields that I could try.  

Although my focus was in plant science, I was able to take courses in Humanities, Arts, Religion, Kinesiology, and more to see what I did and didn’t enjoy. Out of the 42 courses that I took throughout my undergraduate years, the course that has proven to be most useful in my life has been Swimming. Temple University was also a place where I found a mentor who truly believed in me, and that is something you can’t replace. 

When it came to social activities, the large student body meant that there were many clubs and extracurriculars that I could participate in. With a school that big, you were bound to find your group(s) or your ‘people’ one way or another. Mine was the international student group, the rock climbing crew and the horticulture kids.

Le Tran Thu Thao - Class of 2016
Now that you have graduated, what do you want to do after university?  

My original plan was to get a job in Horticulture, working for a non-government organization. However it seems like life had its own plan in mind - for the better! I graduated right in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic, so my job prospects in the US weren’t looking positive. I decided to go backpacking for 4 months instead, before returning to Vietnam.  

I’ve been freelancing as a private English tutor (focusing on IELTS) for 1.5 years now. It started as an activity to fill time but has turned into my main job for the foreseeable future. At the moment, I am quite content with how life has played out. For me, the English language has opened so many doors in my life (people, knowledge, experiences). When I teach English, I feel like I am paying it forward and making a difference by helping others open their own doors too. I love that I get to build personal connections with some of my students beyond our tutor sessions.  

Le Tran Thu Thao - Class of 2016

My job as a freelancer has allowed me to support myself financially and I live within my means, but it has also given me freedom with my time. I use this time to unpack and work through a lot of stress that I had accumulated and pushed down during college. I personally feel that it is worthwhile for me to do this now, instead of piling even more stress on top. I try to have a 50/50 split between work and health. 

Although I know that I won’t be tutoring IELTS forever, I haven’t thought too much ahead either. I am a firm believer that when I focus and put my heart into the task in front of me, good things will come if I am open to it: in the form of good people, and good opportunities that are a good fit for me. 

If you had a single piece of advice for your fellow students, what would it be? 

“Treat life as an experiment, and you are the scientist.” 

In an ideal world, scientists come up with a hypothesis that will either be proved or disproved, through a series of trial and error. These scientists are ready to welcome any type of outcome. 

If the experiment is something the scientists have never done before, then they approach it with a sense of curiosity and intrigue as to what might happen, instead of worrying over potentially ‘negative’ outcomes. If the experiment doesn’t work as expected, instead of bashing themselves with self-guilt or shame, they simply accept the outcome, redo the experiment, or explore a different method.  

Although we don’t live in an ideal world, I try to apply this mindset wherever I can. Of course, I still feel guilt, shame or anxious anticipation from time to time, but this approach has helped me to accept and learn from my own mistakes instead of regretting them. If I’m lucky, I might even get a good story out of them.  

It has also allowed me to feel excitement and eagerness for things that I don’t know, instead of being scared of them. I still worry about the past and the future sometimes, just not as often. That has both saved me a significant amount of emotional turmoil and freed up a considerable amount of time for me to spend on better things.