Nguyen Thi Cam Van – the 3rd year student at Hue University of Sciences
Though she now lives in Hue, Van spent her childhood in Eo Ru, a small farming village in Hoa Thuy, Quang Binh province. Conditions in the commune are challenging and the village is under state support.
Van lost the feeling in her legs due to an illness when she was just 6 years old. Between her disability and the community’s limited resources, growing up was not easy and a future working with technology seemed like a distant dream. However, through her determination and the unflinching support of her family, Van is proving that whilst her physical health may be delicate, her spirit is incredibly strong.
In recognition of her talent and ability, Van was recently awarded a Microsoft YouthSpark scholarship. This program, managed by CED with generous support from Microsoft, seeks out promising young women majoring in STEM and supports them to build a future career in technology.
CED and Microsoft recognize the current gender imbalances in STEM fields, both in Vietnam and other countries across the globe. Via the YouthSpark scholarship program, both organisations aim to ensure women have equal opportunities in technology. This is vital as we approach Industry 4.0 and the smart systems, big data and automated analytical models it will introduce.
Scholarship recipients are provided with financial support, training to develop their technical and soft skills, career planning advice, and input from experts in technology. The scholarship is open to women studying technology in 1 of 8 universities across Vietnam. Applicants living with a disability and from disadvantaged groups are prioritized. Since its inception, the program has supported 240 young women across Vietnam.
For Van, the YouthSpark scholarship is the latest step in a journey that began in the 5th grade, when her school received its first dedicated IT facilities. Around this time, Van’s family purchased a desktop computer to support her development, as she could not go outside and play with other children.
Van and the other girls at the YouthSpark scholarship award ceremony for the 2018 - 2019 school year
These events acted as the catalyst for Van’s interest in technology. As her passion for the subject blossomed, she began following famous programmers and started to discover the many benefits that technology could bring about.
Upon returning to school after 2 years of medical treatment, Van was determined to see her studies through. After completing high school, Van secured a place at the Hue University of Sciences. Since then, her university studies and the YouthSpark scholarship have opened up a completely new world to Van.
In the future, Van dreams of becoming a highly skilled programmer, creating new software from the ground up to help others with disabilities. She also hopes to live an independent life and provide support to her parents, just as they supported her when she was young. For Van, the future holds many possibilities.
Van’s path mirrors the increasing focus on STEM and technology in Vietnam. Universities across the country have established new technology-focused majors including robot and artificial intelligence, digital business, geospatial information science and biotechnology.
Furthermore, the Vietnamese government has recently issued a decree creating more favourable conditions for developing businesses in science and technology.
These developments are highly encouraging and, coupled with the efforts of CED and Microsoft via the YouthSpark scholarship program, will help to ensure that young women in Vietnam are prepared today for the technological developments and demands of tomorrow.
To find out more about Van’s story, please see the video below: