Two Vietnamese Math Genius Teenagers Study at Top 1% University in the World
Vietnamese-born teenager Alisa Pham is enrolled in AUT's Bachelor of Communication Studies with a double major in digital branding and creative branding at an age when most other kids are at intermediate school, cited from NewstalkZB.
|Photo NZ Herald|
She said she draws inspiration from her sister Vicky, who graduated in December from AUT's BSc - Applied Maths program at age 15 and is now pursuing her PhD in data science.
This extraordinary Auckland student has not only completed an entire high school year in 10 months, but she also finished mostly by learning from home.
|Alisa (left) and Victor (middle) playing outdoor with friend. Photo: Bao Moi|
"I did a lot of my own self-learning like going through books, getting my own exams doing previous year test papers, those kinds of things, just so I could learn all of that."
The exuberant child genius has not gone unnoticed: Stanford University’s Office of Undergraduate Admission also wants to interview her as a potential freshman applicant. That's not all! Pham is also a provisional member of Mensa, meaning she is in the top two percent of the most intelligent people in the world across all ages.
Despite her advanced intelligence, Alisa is clearly still a child and was giggly during the interview when she talked about her hobbies. She could not hold her excitement for being the youngest student at university.
"At uni there is no difficulty for me to do things like group assignments or talk to people at uni I think because I am doing the same learning as them."
Alisa said her favourite pastimes include playing squash, swimming and art.
"I like to draw comics and fashion designs when I'm on my own, but with friends I like to play sports or gaming," she said.
"I'm just like all the other kids, I have normal hobbies," Alisa insisted.
Alisa's mother said she chose to move to New Zealand so her children could have a safe, nice environment and better opportunities.
"I am a single mum, so my life focus is on my two daughters," she said.
|Alisa's sister Vicky Ngo, who graduated from AUT's BSc - Applied Maths program at age 15, is now pursuing her Ph.D. in data science. Photo: Tuoi Tre Online|
She said Alisa was "highly intelligent" from a very early age - she started reading books on her own at age 2 - and was thinking about solving world problems even as a child.
"She is also great with language, and I am so impressed at how she is able to master the English language in the short few years that we've been here," her mother said.
"Alisa has no problems socializing with other kids, but she needs to be engaged in a more mature way, and that is why I feel university may be good for her."
|Photo: Tuoi Tre Online|
Her mother said Alisa, with her guidance, co-founded the New Zealand branch of a Vietnamese NGO called The House of Wisdom in 2020, which provides online classes on English, soft skills training, and investment advice.
"Alisa has been running online programs and giving advice to other Vietnamese children, and recently participated as a speaker to support Vietnamese children who have lost their parents due to Covid-19," she said.
Her mother said Alisa had also been actively investing in the NZ stock market in the past three years.
Selwyn College deputy principal Andrew Speed said Alisa joined the college from St Thomas's where had been deemed to be prepared for high school at age 11.
Speed said Alisa excelled in the junior curriculum and achieved university entrance by completing level 2 and 3 internal and external assessments.
"Alisa has shown the independent learning style and motivation that will enable her to excel in the university environment," he said.
She achieved six Excellence and nine Merits over the course of her NCEA studies at the college at age 11.
Alisa said she was settling into university life.
"I was a little nervous at first, but I guess it helped that my sister had gone through it," she said.
"Classes have been pretty easy so far. In fact, one of the reasons I fast-tracked my schooling [was] because I find school quite easy, so I'd probably want to do the same with uni."
Alisa said she is enjoying classes but is looking forward to more in-person contacts at university when the pandemic situation allows.
As for her future, Alisa still plans to do a law degree after completing her communications studies - but her dream is to work in the media.
"I want to pursue a career in media and my dream is to be a journalist," she said.
Pham wants to publish her own autobiography in ten languages, donate 20 thousand books in English to children in Vietnam and wants to list her own company on the stock exchange by 2025, and those are just some of her goals.
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