Long-Co Nguyen: Strauss, 2009, Vietnam

2nd entry: I remember when I was first starting M.E.M.O., I was at one of the first fundraising events that I had ever organized, and I was in a cow costume. We needed to draw attention to our booth in a local health fair, and the only logical solution we could think of is to get a cow costume. So I donned my cow attire and started to promote the organization. Of course, since then, we’ve developed different fundraising tactics that raise more money and require less embarrassment, but just thinking back makes me really appreciate applying to the Strauss Scholarship. Not only does the scholarship give you start-up funds to carry out your project, but it also gives you the means to win other grants. The foundation assigns each scholar a mentor from its Board of Trustees who is available to assist you throughout the year. And with the combination of prestige and assistance you get from the scholarship, you will be able to win other grants. I could not even begin to describe how grateful I am for being a Strauss Scholar, especially since a only few years ago, I was looking at my mom’s confused face as she stared at her daughter in a cow suit and said, “This isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I agreed to put you through a four-year university.”

Since I can’t think of a smooth segue from cow costumes to floods, I’ll just jump right into the second topic of this entry. Flooding is a frequent occurrence in Vietnam’s central highlands. Each time homes are destroyed or damaged; rice and subsidiary crops are inundated; traffic, electricity, and communication systems are disrupted; and people lose their lives or go missing. Being located in Qui Nhon, the students and their families in the Electronic Vocation School must face the storms and its accompanying damages on a yearly basis. Last summer, eight of the students had to take a temporary leave of absence from training to help their families repair damages to their homes and crops. Since then, to prevent homes in the surrounding provinces from getting damaged, our students have designed a device called electro-mechanical sensor. The purpose of this device is to send proper signals to activate the water pumps on the onslaught of a flood before any damages are caused. The students—with the assistance of our teachers—not only designed, produced, and tested its functionality, but also installed the circuit. It is amazing to see, with just a little help, what our students can achieve; they now not only support their families with their new, stable job, but also have made a huge impact on the people living in the area. I can’t wait to see what else they achieve in the future.

Electro-mechanical sensor that the students designed:

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