The journey to coveted John Hopkins University of Olympian Nguyen Ba Viet Dung

30 September, 2021

Among top 15 colleges in the world and top 9 American colleges, John Hopkins University only admitted 15 Vietnamese students in 2019. Despite the slim chance, Nguyen Ba Viet Dung, an Olympian 12th grader, has managed to get an offer letter for Fall 2021.

Another studying abroad season has come to Olympia. While many students are under pressure, Nguyen Ba Viet Dung, a young debater with many outstanding achievements, has been much more relaxed with an offer letter from John Hopkins, a prestigious coveted college in the US.

“I am very happy and proud, and relieved from anxiety and worry. However, I am a bit concerned about how to prepare for a different life in college,” Dung said.



It is never easy to be admitted to Johns Hopkins. The whole journey towards a dream that he had since grade 7 is made out of his efforts and his Olympian teachers’ support. In hindsight, we can see many stories and experiences that Olympian students can feel proud of and learn from.

From the dream to work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to John Hopkins

Dung and his teachers have gone through a lot of preparation steps to reach John Hopkins

“I considered applying for international colleges since I was at grade 8. My mother, Ms. Tam Hien and Ms. My Linh guided me, referred many activities, and supported me in preparing application. My subject teachers helped me overcome any difficulties in any subject. My school advisors followed me through the journey to ensure that I stayed on track and took part in many extracurricular activities. I am grateful for UCC staff, who supported me to prepare for the application, introduced college options, and made sure that my application had good quality.”



According to My Linh, one of Dung’s teachers for the last six years, the encounter with Dung is destined to be. Six years since the first day Dung got into Olympia, My Linh and other teachers have been in his company until his dream is realized. Dung has a particular interest in debate and student exchange programs. His long-standing achievements have laid solid foundation for his successful application.

“Dung used to be the youngest debater in a competition in Indonesia. He was at grade 7, joining the extended competition along with many college students. In subsequent years, he took part in many local and international debate competitions and achieved excellent prizes such as best speaker in the second extended Hanoi competition and representative from Vietnam to compete with others from Malaysia, Croatia, and Indonesia. He made great efforts in both academic and extracurricular performance not just to have a strong application but to prepare for the upcoming challenging stage.”

Persistent pursuit of the goal

TMy Linh and other teachers at Olympia referred to Dung as “solid as a rock” because he has persistently chased after his goal despite challenges. He knows what he needs to do and does it until he reaches success.

“The most important success factor to get into John Hopkins is a long-term plan, even up to years, for such a critical task as application preparation. The application not only requires essays but also standardized test results, outstanding academic record, and focused extracurricular activities.”



Given a clear goal and extracurricular plan, Dung stopped participating in debate competitions since grade 11 and spent his grade 12 being trained to be a debate judge. He was the only high school student chosen into top 10 judges for the debate competition of Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. He chose to discard unimportant goals to head towards a long-term target.

In terms of academic record, he followed his teachers’ clear roadmap: taking Toefl in grade 10 and SAT in grade 11 to prepare for studying aboard. As one of the early birds among 11th graders at Olympia that got SAT results before Covid disrupted test-taking, Dung was readily confident to apply. Some useful subjects such as Humanity, a unique subject at Olympia, were his focus. Humanity explores socio-historical realm, which Dung had a particular interest in. He was empowered to dig dive what he loved.

He shared about his success story,

“Do not procrastinate. After accumulating all test results and extracurricular record, spend time on preparing the application. Recommendation letter or personal essay seem effortless but very complex and challenging indeed. If I were to submit my application again, I would do all these tasks much earlier than the deadline.

One of the biggest challenge to many students is no clarity in their plan. In the last month before the deadline, I rushed to preparing application, writing essay and asking for recommendation letter. This caused much trouble for my teachers but they still helped me meet the deadline, so I would like to thank UCC, Ms. My Linh, and Ms. Khanh. In the last week before deadline, I had to stay late to complete my personal essays, extracurricular record and special essays required by each college. I was very stressful at that time and as a result, I found out some mistakes that should not be there after I submitted my application.”



Dung’s journey to John Hopkins always has the company of Olympian teachers from the very first day until the deadline of application. I would like to quote My Linh’s sharing to end the story of Nguyen Ba Viet Dung

“Olympia is the second family that believes in him, allows him to fail, and offers him chance to bounce back. Our belief in him cannot be found anywhere other than Olympia.”


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