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Hanoian schoolgirl got accepted to #6 ranked college in the US

Post by: trangtrang | 23/05/2020 | 26 reads

Ngo Minh Anh, member of class 12 English 1 of Hanoi - Amsterdam High School for the Gifted, has successfully convinced the admission board of University of Pennsylvania with her project on cooking for underprivileged children.

Minh Anh received her acceptance letter from University of Pennsylvania on November 17th, 2019. As an Ivy League member, UPenn ranked 6th among best National Universities of the US in 2020, tied with University of Chicago, Stanford University, according to US News & World Report.

“Before the day of the result, I stayed up all night dealing with my worries, kept on reading and rereading all encouraging messages from my friends and teachers. The moment I opened the letter and saw the fireworks blasting on my screen I still could not believe.”, Minh Anh said. After seeing “Congratulations” and carefully checking the school’s financial aid for 4 years, she gave her parents a tight hug of happiness.

When sharing about the reasons why to choose UPenn, Minh Anh disclosed that she was impressed with the dynamic student community of the school and that UPenn also had strengths in International Relations, an area which she wants to do more future deeper research.


Minh Anh will experience 4 years of academy at University of Pennsylvania.

Intending to study in the US since grade 10, Minh Anh found that US universities evaluated apprehensively, in terms of both academic and extracurricular activities. She set her goals to gain academic achievements, participate in school and non-governmental activities. She won the Asian-Pacific Mathematical Olympiad bronze medal and the silver medal for Female Kata of the Vietnam - Japan Open Karate tournament 2017. 

She was the Chair of UNESCO at International Model United Nations 2019 and is now holding the title of Academic Ambassador of Hanoi - Amsterdam High School for the Gifted. She got a 1560/1600 on SAT, 116/120 on TOEFL and 800/800 on SAT II Maths and Chemistry.

In order to gain all the aforementioned achievements, Minh Anh used to feel exhausted, overloaded due to overworking and over-multitasking, having only 3 hours a day to sleep. Spending too little time for herself led to lack of efficiency in all her work. After a while, she had to readjust and reallocate her time more appropriately. She put important activities in a fixed timetable and eliminated unnecessary work.

In order to relieve stress, Minh Anh bakes. As the former president of Ams Baking Club, she and her friends had a baking lesson for orphans at Huong Lan Pagoda (Chuong My District, Hanoi), worked part-time at Donkey Bakery, a bakery for people with disabilities. The time working there helped Minh Anh gain vocational training experience for the disadvantaged and the idea of opening a cooking class for poor children.

The location to implement the idea is Sa Pa town, Lao Cai province, where many ethnic families let their kids learn literacy only and then stay at home to make a living. With all her eagerness to launch the project, the Hanoian girl has had many tough times when she just wanted to cry because they cannot raise enough money. “The thought of giving up did cross my mind because in comparison to making a donation, building a sustainable project is much harder.”, Minh Anh shared.

Telling herself “maybe in Sa Pa there are children who love cooking just like me”, in the summer of 2019, Minh Anh continued to call for sponsorship, built a fundraising campaign via social media, held a flea and food market. Over a summer month, she gained 70 million VND.

Having the money she needed, Minh Anh contacted Mr. Ta Van Thuong, a non-profit English teacher in Sa Pa, the founder of Sa Pa Hope Center. Mr. Thuong agreed to help her set up the classroom inside Sapa Hope Center, invited a restaurant chef in Lao Cai to be the lecturer and encouraged children to come to the class.

Currently, the free cooking class is working with 15-20 children, sponsored by many benefactors. The children will be learning how to cook with European kitchen (restaurant kitchen) and traditional fire stove in order to both practice their skills and preserve national traditions.

Mr. Thuong said Minh Anh’s cooking class was very meaningful to Sapa children, initially helping children build life skills and develop culinary skills to find jobs in the field of tourism here.


Minh Anh teaching how to make a cake.

Completing the cooking class project, Minh Anh started writing her essay and finished the first one in September. Feeling unsatisfied, 4 weeks before the deadline, she thoroughly contemplated her marks and decided to change the topic to bringing cooking class to upland Vietnam and the changes in her awareness as well as those of people around her on this journey.

After 3 weeks of deleting and rewriting 12 drafts, Minh Anh finally felt content about the sketches of the human she was and spent 7 days to write the complete essay. “The cooking class project is the biggest devotion in my high school years and also the story which best expressed myself so I want to share it with the admission board. Since this is my favourite topic, I could write naturally with abundant vocabulary.”, Minh Anh said.

A week after applying, Minh Anh received the invitation to an online interview with a representative of the University of Pennsylvania. Thinking that the most important thing in the interview was honesty, Minh Anh did not exaggerate anything, nor tried to think about how the admission would like to hear the answer.

When asked “How will you integrate into American culture at the university?”, Minh Anh briefly considered some impressive answers but then answered: “I feel very proud of the identity of Vietnam.” She believed that answering honestly and confidently is the key to “score” in the interview.

Only in 8 months’ time, Minh Anh will go to the US to study International Relations. “The 3 years’ time from a 10th grader beginning to learn about studying abroad to getting accepted into University of Pennsylvania is not too long, but every single moment getting nearer to my set goals is a memory that I will never forget”, Minh Anh said. 

Via VnExpress

Translator: Minh Anh - Russian English 1821