Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong graduated from Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy in 2017, majoring in Pharmacy. After graduation, she worked as a pharmacist at Pharmacy Department of Franco-Vietnamese Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City for four years. Huong was awarded a British Council Scholarship for Women in STEM in 2021–22, and completed an MSc in Drug Discovery, Development and Delivery at Liverpool John Moores University.
Why did you choose the UK as a study destination?
My dream of studying abroad was cherished from the first days in university when my teachers shared their stories of pursuing higher education overseas as a journey to broaden knowledge horizons. My dream became bigger when I was working in Pharmacy Department of Franco-Vietnamese, Ho Chi Minh City Hospital with many colleagues graduated from prestigious universities in the UK, the US, Australia, and New Zealand. I recognised their open-minded thinking, flexible communication and particularly, their adept and systematic understanding. They taught me valuable lessons of pharmacy and problem-solving skills. In addition, they encouraged me to find opportunities to study abroad in those countries to gain more knowledge in the field of Pharmacy. Among the encouragements, I was most impressed by the stories of a colleague and the Head of the Pharmacy Department, who both had experience as international students in the UK. Therefore, I started researching the world-leading education system and study opportunities in this country as well as started preparing applications. Coincidently, I gained a scholarship to study at Liverpool John Moores University where my colleagues graduated from.
Studying in the UK through the British Council Scholarships for Women in STEM programme must have been a valuable experience. What were your motivations to apply for this scholarship among many other prestigious scholarship programmes?
I believe the first reason is suitability. I knew British Council Scholarship for Women in STEM by chance when reading a post of Scholarship Hunting with Alumni. I knew other scholarships such as Chevening and GREAT which sponsor students to study in UK, then I was curious because I had not heard about this programme before. Later, I realised that I was one of the recipients in the first cohort of this scholarship. I was impressed with the scholarship’s aim to promote enrollment of girls and women in STEM majors. After meticulously researching into universities and majors involved in this programme, I found the master’s course in Drug Discovery, Development and Delivery in Liverpool John Moores appropriate with my future orientation towards pharmaceutics. I was also eligible for all the requirements of this course. Another reason related to financial support is that I cannot afford studying and living abroad to pursue higher education. Therefore, I aimed to apply for a fully funded scholarship and the British Council scholarships for Women in STEM at that time gave me a hope to keep lit my dream of studying abroad.
What is your best experience in the UK?
I remember that when I first got to the UK, I missed more than 2-week classes along with many lectures because of visa delay and isolation. There were several subjects that the theory lectures had completed when I started attending school. Although Liverpool John Moores University allowed international students to register for online learning till November due to covid situation, many classes were not recorded. Therefore, I was stressed at that time, mainly because there were a number of new concepts in my course. Fortunately, my personal tutor in LJMU is super supportive. She asked me to update my visa status when I was still in Vietnam and always gave me sound advice when I encountered difficulties in learning. I also emailed lecturers about the sessions that I did not understand and received kind support and guidance. They even suggested that they could spend time teaching me again lessons that I missed or any concepts that I could not understand to help me catch up in classes. Thanks to that, I quickly adapted to the tense lecture schedule and assignments within 1 month. I also found an appropriate study method and thereby, achieving high results in the first semester.
What have you learnt from your current major at Liverpool john Moores University? How will the knowledge that you have learnt support your future career, especially in the current complicated situation of Covid-19 pandemic?
My master’s course is Drug Discovery, Development and Delivery. My background was pharmacy so I had been exposed to subjects about pharmaceutical industry when in undergraduate. Working in a clinical setting also allowed me to strengthen my knowledge in clinical pharmacy and drug quality. This master programme has broadened my horizons in pharmaceutical manufacture, ranging from screening potential drug candidates, formulation development to quality control and validation. In addition, the education system in the UK values self-study, critical thinking, and discussion with lecturers, which helps to increase my research capacity to accumulate appropriate understanding in the pharmaceutical field, specifically, towards “Antibiotic resistance”. Despite uncertainty and complexity of covid pandemic, other infectious diseases and the alarming antibiotic resistant rate remain a burden on the healthcare system and need attention. I believe my foundation gained from the master’s course will facilitate me to pursue this research topic in the future.
What advice would you give to Vietnamese students who wish to apply for British Council Scholarships for Women in STEM 2022–23?
Having applied and failed in many scholarship applications before becoming a recipient of British Council Scholarships for Women in STEM, I hope women who are interested in this scholarship can keep lit their dream of studying abroad and give themselves a try with this opportunity. I believe that applying for a scholarship is a process of reflecting on our strengths and weaknesses and matching with the scholarship. Therefore, this process will help us to learn a lot. Receiving a scholarship for Women in STEM will initiate a journey of studying and enthusiasm in the UK, I am confident to say that your experience in this beautiful country in terms of learning environment, people and culture will make you more mature and open-minded.