Student from farming family wins PhD scholarship without IELTS or TOEFL certificate

Having never applied for a scholarship to study abroad and having never taken an IELTS or TOEFL exam, Nguyen Thi Hoa did not think he had the opportunity to study in Germany.

Nguyen Thi Hoa

However, Hoa, born in 1996, from Thanh Van commune in Thanh Oai district of Hanoi, was granted a full scholarship to study for a doctorate at RWTH Aachen University in Germany.

Hoa said that during her childhood, she chose to study in village schools because it allowed her to walk to school. She decided to study at Thanh Oai A High School because the school was near her home, although the school set the lowest score in the entrance exam.

Although she is good at natural science and loves math, Hoa did not join the team selected by the school for excellent math students. Since the team selected for excellent physics students was still short of members, Hoa, who was in 11th grade, was invited by her physics teacher to join the team.

Realizing this was a great opportunity, Hoa agreed with the teacher. She won a consolation prize that year.

A year later, the teacher chose Hoa as a member of the school’s student team to enter the city’s competition for excellent physics students. However, she did not win any awards.

However, the passion for physics continued. After graduating from high school, Hoa decided to enroll to study Physics (International Program) at Hanoi University of Natural Sciences, a member school of Hanoi National University.

The first year at school was a difficult year for her. Hoa had problems with English and she was worried about being left behind.

“My GPA was only 2.32 in the first semester. Luckily, I regained my confidence in the second semester through some math-related subjects, and my GPA went up to 3.6,” Hoa recalls.

Hoa decided to study theoretical physics and mathematical physics. After graduating from school, she applied for a master’s degree in physics, the major she loves.

During her master’s studies, Hoa worked as a private tutor to have money to cover her basic needs. She received an invitation to work as a teacher in a private high school, but she turned down the job because she wanted to devote most of her time to her master’s degree and scientific research.

Unexpected scholarship

“If I hadn’t decided to study abroad, maybe I would have become a high school teacher after getting the master’s degree,” Hoa said.

The scholarship to study for a doctorate came to Hoa unexpectedly. At the beginning of October 2021, Nguyen The Toan, his teacher, sent him information on scholarships from international partners. After reading the information, she found that the scholarship was suitable for her scientific research and she decided to apply.

In mid-November 2021, she was informed that her application had been accepted and she prepared documents to study abroad. And in mid-February 2022, she set foot in Germany and began her studies at RWTH University in Aachen. The school also organized Hoa’s research at IAS-5/INM-9 Forschungszentrum, Juelich for his doctoral thesis.

Hoa had never thought of seeking scholarships to study abroad as she did not have a degree or certificate in English such as IELTS and TOEFL. She had only studied English at university. However, she was still able to obtain a scholarship to do a doctorate in Germany.

“They asked a lot of questions about theoretical physics, statistics and quantum mechanics, which is the knowledge I learned in college,” she said, adding that she was grateful to the University of Natural Sciences for her education.

When asked about opportunities after graduation, Hoa said that all you need to do is study well and pursue your passion, and opportunities will come.

“Sometimes opportunities come at times we don’t expect,” she said.

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