Nguyen Nguyen Thao was awarded the British Council Scholarships for Women in STEM 2023–24. She is currently studying for an MSc Global Public Health at Newcastle University.

Why did you choose to pursue your studies in a STEM subject in the UK?

There are countless reasons why I chose the UK as the next stop for my academic adventure. The United Kingdom is renowned for its world-class healthcare education system, with a dense network of prestigious universities. When searching for a suitable postgraduate programme, I was extremely impressed by the hundreds of public health postgraduate programmes offered by UK universities. These courses are lectured by world-leading healthcare experts with innovative teaching styles. Therefore, gaining an accredited qualification from a UK university would be a highlight on my resume, and secure me a fulfilling job when coming back to Viet Nam. Furthermore, I love travelling. During my period of study, I can take advantage of this opportunity to travel around the UK and other European countries. This has been one of my biggest dreams since I was a little girl.

Please share with us about your study programme in the UK, what do you like most about this programme, or scholarship scheme, or your UK institution? 

Currently, I am studying on a Global Public Health MSc at Newcastle University. This university has a long history in healthcare research, which is shown by its role as a member of The Russell Group, and by a long list of high-profile alumni. The postgraduate programme provides me with a deep insight into the health issues that the world is facing, and how to promote public health in each country, including Viet Nam. Studying in an international environment makes me feel like a small grain of sand in the big ocean, which motivates me to try my best each day.

Thanks to the scholarship, I am no longer worried about financial issues and can completely focus on my studies. One thing I feel most grateful for is the dedicated care from the university’s scholarship team. They helped me with many things, such as finding accommodation or supporting me with documentation issues. Besides that, I had a chance to connect with other scholars, who are all so friendly and talented.

Although it is a little bit of a struggle with the assignments, I'm still enjoying my time in UK. I've had trips to several cities, such as Nottingham, Oxford, London, and Edinburgh. I will explore the UK as much as possible before graduation.

What are your plans after finishing your studies in the UK?

After graduation, I plan to come back to Viet Nam and bring some gifts for my family and friends. I will spend more time with my family and relax for a while before looking for a new job. I want to get a job that focuses on long-lasting prevention of health risks, especially given the worsening antibiotic resistance crisis. I believe that the knowledge and experience I gain in my postgraduate studies will really benefit my future career.

What advice would you give to Vietnamese students who wish to apply for the British Council Scholarships for Women in STEM 2024–25? 

I think there are three things that I hope candidates always remember in their journey to win this scholarship.

Firstly, always believe in yourself. This means you have to believe in your capabilities and the achievements you've gained so far. Don't  compare yourself with others, and then give up on your chance because of your self-doubt. My advice is that when you write a scholarship essay, you should spend time reflecting on yourself. Write down all the questions that help you understand your past, present, and future, which will give you clues to answer the scholarship questions logically. 

Secondly, treat your mental health well. This journey will certainly not be easy. Sometimes you may be disappointed with failures, or stressed from thinking of ideas. In this case, I hope that you can give yourself a break and find something that comforts you. When your mind is at ease, wonderful ideas will come to you.

Last but not least, never give up. Remember to show the scholarship committee your determination in the essay through your life stories, which will make you stand out from other applicants. As long as you keep working consistently towards your dream, I strongly believe that you will gain fruitful outcomes in the future.