For his age, Lam Dinh already proves himself to be a mature and steadfast individual, with a burning passion for technology. As a student of Point Avenue, he was awarded the Presidential Scholarship (Full-Ride) worth $300,000 (Approx. 7 billion VND) from Villanova University (#53 NU) in the US, one of the most prestigious universities in the US.
It was beyond Lam’s wildest dreams, to be one of the 25 excellent students receiving the honorable scholarship. “I remember that Friday evening. I just finished my Math class and was looking forward to playing some games on the computer. That was when I saw the congratulatory letter in my inbox. I just burst out with joy, and started jumping around the house to celebrate.”
Choosing Villanova because he wants to ‘contribute to our society'
Having received admissions letters from multiple universities, Lam decided to choose Villanova in pursuit of a Computer Engineering degree, even though that major is not the school's greatest strength. What impressed Lam about Villanova, however, is the way the school places a strong emphasis on humanity in its curricula.
“I don’t want to just learn about computer science or coding, I want to know how I can use technology to contribute to the betterment of our society and bring values to the community. I believe Villanova is the perfect place for me to make my dreams come true.” When asked about his ambitions, Lam dreams of making our life and work in cities ‘smarter’ and ‘better’ through innovation.
A Heart for Science, and a Head among the Clouds
Lam began exploring his options to study abroad from Grade 10 and started his application plan then. Despite starting a bit later than the rest of the class, Lam quickly identified his profile-building strategy, which he called the "inverted triangle”. He first focused on getting the ideal score on the two important standardized tests, IELTS and SAT. After two months of rigorous study, the boy from Hanoi-Amsterdam achieved his goals with 1500 SAT and 8.0 IELTS. With a solid academic foundation, Lam took the time to explore life around him and opened himself up to new and meaningful experiences.
Although Lam started out majoring in Physics, he soon took great interest in computer hardware and software and oriented himself in Computer Engineering. In addition to participating in clubs at school, Lam determined that he wanted to build a profile of extracurricular activities in STEM. He actively took advantage of the relationships he had with people working in the industry. Eventually, he was directly involved in a research project with the Vietnam Academy of Sciences and published a research paper. He went on to win the Gold medal in the International Artificial Intelligence Innovation Contest 2019 - 2020.
Beyond his interest in Science, Lam is a very lively individual. He enjoys taking time to explore the streets to discover different life stories. It is these moments that have become the endless inspiration that Lam conveys in his university application essays.
Know how to find help to turn dreams into reality
When Lam first arrived at Point Avenue, the Early Decision deadline was very close. He was full of ideas but did not know how to present them logically and convincingly in his university application. After a consultation session with his mentor - Mr. John, Lam began working on completing his application. He quickly became a familiar face at our office. He could easily be found at the table editing away his essay, or taking his rest time to stretch it out in the gym. Although his time studying at Point Avenue was not too long, Lam really found his place within our community, and along with it valuable memories.
“I truly cherish my time spent with Mr. John Fujita. We spent countless nights staying up until 2 AM, listening to “Banana Boat” countless times, and eventually, I was able to piece together from my stories a complete, 650-word essay.”
Lam believes the ‘secret’ to his success comes from his observation skill and his curiosity about the most mundane things in life. “What does the barber think of his job?”, “Why name colors when you can have the exact RGB code for them?”. Mr. John then taught him to raise big questions about life from those seemingly trivial questions, and weaved them into essays as he gave his personal opinion to questions including: “How does color perception affect reason and emotions?” or “Why are all occupations equally important?”
Talking about his application process, Lam refers to it as a unique and meaningful experience, where he had the chance to explore his interests. He firmly believes that it is not necessary to go to a top-tier school. It is better to go to a school that matches your career orientation, personality, and ability. On the school side, each school will also have its own "taste” for selecting students and can completely reject qualified candidates for many different reasons.
Even though he just finished an exhausting university application, Lam is already working on his next steps. He is preparing himself to make new connections and to face new opportunities and challenges in his path to America.
“If I could give you one piece of advice, I would tell you to just go out and explore, do things from the heart, and never turn down any opportunity to grow.”
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