Though she comes from a difficult family situation, with parents who are seriously ill, Ly Thi Phuong Trang still endures – at school and in her personal life. This dedicated girl is one of the students who received the Teillon-Ludlow scholarship.

 The pious girl

Ly Thi Phuong Trang (a third year student from An Giang University) was born into a family of five members. Her parents are small traders in the local market, earning approx. 5 million VND per month. That money was not enough to cover the cost of studying for her three brothers, especially with her brother studying in the city. “My brothers can go to school because of our annual loan,” Trang said.

Sitting in a spacious room about 10 m2 with basic necessities near An Giang University, Trang is moved when talking about her parents.  Trang’s mother has had diabetes for about three years and has to go to the city for treatment every three months. A few months ago, Trang’s father, who has high blood pressure, had a stroke. The family’s income, which is already low, is now being spent on medication and doctor visits.

 Ly Thi Phuong Trang often has to stay up late in order to do programming on the computer.

“Despite poverty and illness, my parents still always take care of me. Even though I have had a lot of difficulties – my parents have even more. So, I only concentrate on studying hard so I can graduate, find a job, and support my parents.” Trang could not hold back her tears when asked about her parents.

Since she studies far from home (40 km), Trang helps her parents buy things, like vegetables on the weekend – sometimes every two weeks. However, that time is not enough for Trang to lessen her feelings of anxiety about her father’s illness. Her mother now has to do more. With Trang leaving home, her mother now has to prepare every meal, buy clothes, and pay for electricity and water herself. Trang understands the pain her parents feel.

At the time of the university entrance exam, Trang realized it was important to find a suitable field for finding a good job and helping her family. “After researching, I decided to study Software Engineering because it was easy to apply for a job and it has high, consistent salaries giving me the ability to look after my parents.” Trang shared her reasons for choosing the IT field.

Resilience to challenges

Information technology is an exciting field because it “requires intelligence and logic, and I can create new software.” But with Trang, this is a very difficult subject. Working so often on a computer means sitting for a long time and staying up late. It could also affect Trang’s health, causing eyestrain and back pain, especially during each exam.

For the first two years at university, Trang’s strengths were not good enough; her grades dropped in many subjects. Trang received much advice to study accounting or banking, or even to stay home and help her parents because “studying in this industry is hard and boring, and 4-5 years of studying is so long.”

“There was a time when I thought about studying other subjects because it was so difficult, but I told myself not to give up easily. Others learn, you can learn too,” Trang shared. She always thinks about the struggles facing her parents and uses that as motivation to work harder. By the middle of the second year, Trang’s marks were up. She was determined to improve her academic performance and demonstrated to everyone that “girls can study Information Technology.”

The Teillon-Ludlow Scholarship made her dreams come true.

When she found out that she received the Teillon-Ludlow scholarship, Trang informed her family, which made them all happy. Trang said, “I’m very happy. I just want to thank Mr. Teillon and Mrs. Ludlow for helping me continue my studies and easing my parents’ anxiety. The amount of 13 million VND per year received from the scholarship helped Trang pay her tuition and buy a laptop for her studies.

Phuong Trang (third from right) and other girls in the Teillon-Ludlow scholarship participated in communication skills training.

Since receiving the scholarship, Trang has had many opportunities to participate in personal development activities. Trang has interacted with many other girls at school, met young Asian leaders, and participated in communication and soft skills training. These activities helped Trang have the opportunity to share her difficulties and get help from friends and teachers. Because of the training, Trang has also felt more confident and more motivated to try to learn.

“I have changed from a shy girl – becoming bold, confident, and more sociable. The soft skills and foreign language skills that I have learned and practiced will help me succeed in my studies and in life, in addition to the specialized IT knowledge,” Trang shared.

Teillon-Ludlow is a scholarship funded by Meredith Ludlow and Marc Teillon for 80 disadvantaged girls who are studying Information Technology or Agriculture at Can Tho or An Giang Universities. They receive scholarships until graduation. Each scholarship recipient will be supported with 13 million VND per year to cover tuition fees, living expenses, uniforms, and educational materials. Scholarship recipients also participate in many interactive activities, skills training sessions, and language lessons to help them grow.