On 24 April 2019, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, a dedicated optometry student was rewarded for her tenacious commitment to studying optometry. The scholarship was granted by Australian optometrist and former owner of Hanks Optometrists in NSW, Australia, Dr Tony Hanks OAM and his wife, Mrs Vicki Hanks, to Nguyen Lan Vien, who is in her third year of studying Optometry and Vision Science at the University of Medicine Phạm Ngọc Thạch.
Lan Vien’s life story had been one of struggle and determination supported by her hard-working mother. Lan Vien came from a low-income farming family and was raised with her sister by their mother, who was their only breadwinner.
“Despite our great financial difficulty, my mother managed to raise my sister and I, and keep us both in school all the way from beginning to end. So, my mother has been my main motivation for studying as well as in life. I am very grateful to her,” Lan Vien said.
Lan Vien will graduate and join the small, but growing, number of first generation Vietnamese-trained optometrists currently studying at the University of Medicine Phạm Ngọc Thạch in 2020.
The optometry school is a joint initiative between the University of Medicine Pham Ngoc Thach, the Ho Chi Minh City Eye Hospital and Brien Holden Vision Institute, supported by Optometry Giving Sight and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is the culmination of a long-term plan to introduce the optometry profession to the country, with the primary goal of alleviating the burden of uncorrected vision impairment in Vietnam outlined in the Vietnamese National Eye Health Plan.
“We are pleased to be able to provide this support to the optometry students of Vietnam because we have committed the last 45 years to benefitting our local community in Australia through the provision of quality eye care. We hope Nguyen Lan Vien will embrace the opportunity and use the support to help her achieve success in joining the emerging optometry profession in Vietnam,” said Dr Hanks.
Image source: www.brienholdenvision.org