International student wins Presidential Fellows scholarship

a group of students and administrators poses for a photo standing on the stairs to President Crawford's house

By Rachel Berry

This year, Miami University implemented the Presidential Fellows program, which provides a full scholarship and leadership development for a select group of students. Lena Giang, an international student from Vietnam, was one of the 12 students chosen for the inaugural class of the program out of nearly 1,400 applicants.

Giang said she was first drawn to Miami because of a conversation with an alumna of her high school who also attended the university. She told Giang about her positive experiences at Miami and about how caring the professors are.

When it came time to apply for college, Giang decided to also apply for the Presidential Fellows program. She submitted the required materials and was invited for an interview in February. The university covered her airfare, which allowed her to join 70 other students for three days of activities and interviews.

A headshot of a student

Giang said she loved being on campus that weekend and forging connections with the other applicants, who she still stays in touch with.

Afterwards, she waited in anticipation, until she found out in mid-March that she’d won the award. 

"One thing that stood out from Lena's interview was her commitment to women's and girl's issues,” said Fatimata Ndiaye, Assistant Director for International Recruitment. “As I remember, she talked about her efforts in combating harassment at her school by making her family and friends more open about their own harassment experiences.”

Ndiaye said Giang also stood out because of her studiousness and unique skills, like being able to read and write braille.

Giang said all the students she met at the interview weekend were highly qualified and that she feels honored to have been chosen.

“I think it’s a really wonderful opportunity for me,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

She hopes to use her time here to reach out to other international students and help them to get involved. She’s noticed many international students do not seem to know about many opportunities Miami offers, and she’s made it her goal to make sure they are included and informed about what is happening on campus.

Giang is starting this by working on the Community Leadership Team in her residence hall, where she is trying to get more international students to come to events.

Giang herself is trying to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible during her time at Miami. She’s never done rock climbing before but decided to join the climbing club. On her first attempt, she didn’t make it past the easiest wall, but she still loved the opportunity to try and hopes to improve next time.

“It’s been amazing here, and I think it’s a great opportunity for me to try new things,” Giang said. “I found many great opportunities on campus.”