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Balancing Academics and Leadership: Introducing our New Head Boy and Head Girl

Since stepping through the gates of AIS Vietnam in Year 9, Angus Malcolm and Gia Khanh Nguyen Tran (Sarah) have made the most of everything on offer. Their journey through the school has prepared them well for the challenge of becoming Head Students, teaching them the fine art of balance, the importance of extracurriculars, and the value of leadership. 
AIS new head boy and head girl
Making a difference

Being appointed to the role of Head Boy has given Angus the ultimate opportunity to immerse himself in school life.

“I feel grateful and honoured to be acknowledged by my school and have a responsibility in contributing to it,” says Angus. “I’ve always wanted to know and have a say on the school’s workings, and this role enables me to get involved with the things that mean the most to me. Although I’m sure the year will be busy and stressful, I’m looking forward to all the new activities I’ll be participating in. I’m also excited to close a 13-year-long chapter of my life and move into a new one.”

Building the skills to lead

The Global Issues Network has played a powerful role in Angus’s development during his time at AIS. A group of 80 students passionate about tackling humanitarian and environmental issues, the group has benefitted their community through everything from planting trees and cleaning up roads, to hosting events and entertainment. Last year Angus was appointed Network leader, providing another golden opportunity to develop his capabilities.

“This experience has taught me how to lead, motivate and undertake the responsibilities of leadership. It’s had a huge influence on me.”

The value of extracurriculars

For Angus, a big part of leadership rests on valuing others in the community.

“My previous leadership roles have shown me the brilliance and talent within my school, and given me an appreciation for the people I work with. Leadership teaches people to value every opinion and harness the best in every team member. I believe everyone should have exposure to these skills and learn what it’s like to lead.”

But what are the best ways to gain this exposure? Extracurricular activities are a great start.

“All of the extracurriculars I’ve been involved in have helped push me beyond academics into a more holistic worldview – and overall, they’ve made my journey through AIS more enjoyable and memorable.”

Finding balance

While it’s not always easy balancing academics with extracurricular commitments, it’s well worth the effort. Mastering time management has enabled Angus to enjoy the best of both worlds.

“I’d advise keeping a running list of tasks and deadlines and having it accessible from all devices. Whenever you get a new task you can note it down and see the wider picture.”

Head Girl Sarah, is looking forward to beginning the new school year and taking on the leadership role. For her, the= balancing act between academics and extracurricular commitments has taken a different form.

“My way of figuring out my balance was to take on extracurricular activities one by one,” she says. “When I became too overloaded, I’d just pull back on the extracurriculars. Another good way is to find activities that are related to your study subjects – that way you can work and learn something new at the same time. For example, I joined the Science Council to develop my knowledge of physics, which is one of my HL subjects in IB. But be selective about what activities you get involved in – do things that genuinely interest you.”

Card Club and other antics

Sarah’s all-time favourite extracurricular activity is Card Club.

“Card Club is a place for fun and relaxation after a stressful week, and it’s also been a great way for me to balance study and play.”

By participating in a wide variety of clubs and activities - both within and beyond the school gates -  she has laid rock-solid foundations for the year ahead.

“During my time at AIS I’ve joined several House events, notably House dance, where I was in charge of choreography. I was also a member of the SRC (Student Representative Council) in Year 11. Outside of school I was one of the leaders in a book donation project. This was a very precious leadership experience for me because I focused my efforts into members’ development rather than event outcomes. This was when I discovered how much I enjoyed being a leader.

“AIS provides numerous opportunities for students to develop their leadership skills, it’s just a matter of making the most of them.”

Tips from a pro

During her years at AIS Sarah has learned a lot. Her most valuable lesson? 

“Don’t be afraid to try! It’s important to explore the world and ourselves through different events and opportunities. This 'exploration’ gives you valuable experience and will have a significant impact on your future.”