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Do Tan Khang: I have now enough confidence to strive for previously unrealistic dreams

“I still remember vividly the feeling of a three-year-old child having to fight the pains of paralysis. I grew up, never thought one day I would have a good future like a person without disability. But with the Masters degree from Victoria University, I could proudly say that the world still smiles to those who are confident, optimistic and never give up,” Australia Awards alumnus Do Tan Khang was quoted as saying in an article about him in 2012, after coming back from Australia on the Australia Awards Scholarship.

Mr Do Tan Khang was born in a farmer’s family of 6 children in Hoa Nghia commune, Cho Lach district, Ben Tre province.

After an illness at the age of 3 years old, his leg became paralyzed. When Mr Khang was in 3rd grade, he was invited to the School for Children with Disabilities of Ben Tre Province. He later went to Cho Lach High School. Despite being poor and having a disability, he was one of the top students in biology in his class and later was admitted to Can Tho University with the major of Biotechnology.

Do Tan Khang was working as a researcher at the university when he won the Australia Awards Scholarship in 2010. “Winning the Australia Awards Scholarship and studying in Australia was the most memorable mark of my life,” he said.

Mr Do Tan Khang at a exhibition

Do Tan Khang and another Vietnamese student of Victoria University, Nguyen Thi Dieu, at an evet introducing Vietnam’s culture on campus on May 16, 2011. Photo by Mai Lan.

Do Tan Khang has many memories from this time in Australia. He fondly remembered the time he spent with international friends from various countries and with whom he still maintains regular contact, the joy he had and the people he met during his part-time job at the university’s library and his experience introducing Vietnam’s culture at the International Culture Festival on campus. During his time in Australia, he also actively participated in many volunteer activities to support other students in their studies and life.

Mr Do Tan Khang in a conference

From left to right: Three other Vietnamese students at Hiroshima University, Luong The Minh, Pham Thi Thu Ha, Do Tuan Bach pose with Do Tan Khang at the Vietnamese-Japanese Students’ Scientific Exchange Meeting in Kyoto, Japan on October 31, 2015. Photo by: Truong Ngoc Minh

After coming back from Australia, Mr. Khang became a lecturer at Can Tho University, while still working as a researcher. Until he left for Japan for his PhD studies in 2014, he was the main lecturer of Bioinformatics at Can Tho University. He also taught Genetics Technology.

His research expertise has also expanded beyond his previous area of molecular biology and genetics. Thanks to the knowledge gained from his Master of Food Science course at Victoria University, he took part in research projects on bioactive compounds in plants.

Supported by the Small Grants scheme for Australia Awards alumni, in 2012, Do Tan Khang undertook a study on phenolic compounds in legumes and the antioxidative activity during germination. The results of study were published in the proceedings of the National Biology Conference in Thai Nguyen in 2013 and later published in the proceedings of Vietnamese-Japanese Students’ Conference in 2015. In April, 2016, the article was again published in Foods, an open access international journal of food science.

In 2013, Do Tan Khang was put in charge of a ministry-level project on “Collecting and evaluating the salt and aluminum tolerant varieties of rice in the Mekong Delta,” studying 200 varieties of rice in the area to build a database on them.

In 2014, he won the Ministry of Education and Training’s 3rd prize “Vietnam’s Young Scientists” for lecturers.

“My new knowledge and experience in the food science helped me to receive the PhD scholarship to study in Japan,” Do Tan Khang said. He currently studies for his PhD degree at Hiroshima University, on a Japanese Government scholarship.

Mr Do Tan Khang in lab

Do Tan Khang and another Vietnamese PhD student of Hiroshima University, Phung Thi Tuyen, working at a Biology-Chemistry laborartory of Hiroshima University on June 15, 2016. Photo by Truong Ngoc Minh.

Do Tan Khang is also active in social work activities. During his time in Australia, he was a member of the executive board of the International Students Association at Victoria University. He is currently a member of the executive board of Can Tho Association of People with Disabilities, a member of the executive committee of the Youth Union of Biotechnology Research and Development Institute, Can Tho University and Vice President of Hiroshima University’s Vietnamese Student Association.

Mr Khang said: “The Australia Awards Scholarships program is a truly development scholarship program. It is actively contributing to human resource development in Vietnam and many other countries. It also gave priority to disadvantaged applicants all over the country.”

He added, “I now understand the meaning of kindness well enough to no longer feel diffident about my legs. And I have enough confidence to strive for previously unrealistic dreams.”

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