Thankfully, many top institutions around the world are able to offer scholarships to high-achieving students so they can pursue their dreams. Australian International School (AIS) is one such school, and Saigoneer spoke with one student to discover how transformative such an offer can be. Mai Phước Minh Quân, or Bob, as he likes to be called, graduated from AIS two years ago after an impressive academic career that included active roles in leadership and music activities. The Saigon native took a break from his studies at the University of California, Berkeley to reflect on how an AIS scholarship helped him “attend the school with less financial pressure…[and] was a great motivation for me to always better myself and develop to the best of my abilities.”
All parents want to see their children thrive academically and obtain the skills necessary to excel at any institution in the world. AIS’ Cambridge IGCSE and International Baccalaureate diploma program (IBDP) takes a holistic approach to learning that fosters the self-motivated love of learning one finds amongst successful adults. Bob says it “encourages a lot of independent studies, an important skill to have for academic success” at university.
Indeed, Bob was able to seamlessly transition from achievements in AIS classrooms to the Berkeley campus. After receiving straight A’s in his major subjects, numerous distinctions including the AIS Founders Award, and Waterloo Math Competition distinction, After receiving straight A’s in his International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) classes, he continued onto the Berkeley Dean’s List for the top 10% of students during his most recent two semesters. Moreover, he is able to use what he learned in AIS’ state-of-the-art laboratories during his undergrad research at the Cate Lab where he works with mRNA and HEK cells. He credits the “patience and resilience” the work takes to his AIS experiences.
But AIS hopes students achieve more than just academic accomplishments. Students grow as individuals as well and develop a better understanding of who they are as people. Bob, in particular, revealed strong leadership qualities that were nurtured by his involvement in the school’s Model UN program and role as class prefect. He enjoyed the opportunity to help his peers think critically and notes that the experiences have made it easier to adapt to and contribute to Berkeley’s diverse community, as they “opened my eyes to global affairs and taught me how to lead.”
Bob also explored his artistic side at AIS and showcased a talent for music, exemplified by winning a Gold Prize at the 2016 Singapore Performance Art Festival and an honor from New York’s famous Carnegie Hall Theatre. The scholarship Bob received for secondary school gave him the freedom to balance these creative energies with his academic pursuits. Doing so has helped him develop into a well-rounded young adult who has no regrets about his AIS career, and he “would do everything [he] did all over again.”
Bob thinks he might want to continue on to pursue a PhD in bioengineering with the goal of working with drug delivery research, but is open to change as long as his career involves helping others. Considering his academic successes and “the inner urge to help people, to bring good and happiness to the world” he developed at AIS, such goals should not be a surprise to anyone. His future may have been just as bright without an AIS scholarship, but it certainly wouldn’t have been any easier.
AIS Scholarships are open for new and outstanding students in Academics, Sports or Arts that apply to Year 7 - Year 12 (12 to 17 years of age) at AIS in the 2022-2023 academic year. Scholarships are up to 50% off the annual tuition fee. The deadline to submit the application form and all supporting documents is 30th April, 2022. Scholarships will be announced to successful students late May, 2022. For more information of AIS Scholarships, please read here