The Diana Award, created in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, is an award given to young people who have demonstrated exceptional levels of kindness, compassion, and service. Through the award, young people are supported to use their skills, knowledge, and leadership to scale their positive impact in their communities by accessing mentorship and access to educational programs and networking opportunities.
Tuyết Thị Ánh Nguyễn, a member of the Minerva Class of 2025, was awarded the Diana Award thanks to her work in the educational sector through the organization she founded, MiYork. Her initiative offers free academic tutoring, research training, and professional training in digital skills, as well as funding for educational resources for underprivileged schools, directly benefitted 500 students and indirectly 80,000 students.
What qualities, initiatives, and decisions do you think led you to receive the Diana Award?
I received the Diana Award for my social impact and youth-led service journey, starting from when I was still a high school student and especially when I founded a non-profit organization called MiYork while studying at Minerva University.
MiYork is an ecosystem promoting social innovation and high-quality education among Vietnamese high school students. It encompasses three projects (MiYork Research, MiYork Network, and MiYork Education) that work closely with each other to exert significant positive social change.
What type of support will you receive along with the Diana Award?
The award consists of access to an exclusive development program that helps me further increase my capacity for social innovation, leadership, and social change. I have access to the Diana Award’s resources, opportunities, online training, and network of change-makers from all around the world. Hopefully, when I spend my semester in London, I can engage in more in-person activities at the Diana Award Foundation.
What does this award mean to you personally?
I am happy that my story has inspired more Vietnamese young people. Students and organizations across Vietnam (and even in Indonesia and Singapore) have reached out to ask for my support in various educational projects and many of them have also adopted my social project model to offer more educational opportunities for those in need.
The Diana Award is also personally inspirational for me. It is a stepping stone for my career, showing me that I am on the right path to supporting society and reminding me there are more opportunities and challenges ahead.
Can you share more about the projects that you run through your organization?
MiYork Research mentors high school students to conduct research projects and publish research papers in peer-reviewed journals, ensuring the rigor of the research methodology and the accessibility of new knowledge. The research topics revolve around the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Notably, MiYork Research has become the first research project to successfully support high school students in publishing independent research papers without the supervision of professors. Research papers co-authored by our mentees have been published in SCOPUS Q1-indexed journals, such as Heliyon (Elsevier), PLOS One, and Patient Preference and Adherence (Taylor & Francis). We also launched a Facebook group, "Research 101" with over 1000 members, fostering social innovation based on scientific evidence.
The research findings of MiYork Research are used to advise youth-led social projects under MiYork Network. MiYork Network provides legal support, media sponsorship, project management consulting, and financial support for social projects in Vietnam. Social projects under MiYork Network receive mentoring on how to contribute to their community more effectively and sustainably. So far, MiYork Network has supported more than 20 student-led projects, each of them directly supporting around 200 to 500 people, ranging from providing free education to underserved students to fundraising for victims of war or financially supporting heart surgeries in Vietnam. MiYork also manages a network with over 17,000 members, helping Vietnamese youth access education opportunities and contribute to the community by participating in social projects.
To achieve financial sustainability, I founded MiYork Education, an EdTech social enterprise whose profits fund MiYork Research and MiYork Network. Under MiYork Education's mentorship, students with financial hardship and limited resources have won multiple international and national awards, from hackathons to business case and social entrepreneurship competitions. All of these students eventually received full tuition and even full-ride scholarships to study at prestigious global universities.
What other projects have you been involved in?
Before founding MiYork, I also founded "Road to Fulbright University Vietnam", which is now the official admissions Facebook page of Fulbright University Vietnam. Through this Facebook page, I promoted liberal arts education and the first liberal arts college in Vietnam, helping students who are not suited to traditional colleges in Vietnam to discover and study in an alternative environment.
How has your Minerva University journey helped you achieve this award?
Minerva gave me the motivation to seek financial support and study abroad. How Minerva leverages technology and has built a digital ecosystem to promote active learning inspires me and has given me the foundation to develop my current social organization (MiYork). Even before joining Minerva, technology-supported active learning has been a source of my inspiration.
Moreover, Minerva University’s core curriculum is very practical. As a youth-led project, my organization faces many resource constraints, which hinder effective decision-making. In my first year at Minerva, I used my organization as a case study in a Complex Systems class assignment and gained valuable feedback from my professor. I also realize that I subconsciously apply Minerva’s habits of mind and foundational concepts (HCs) in my daily life. For example, to advise social projects on strategies to help more girls in the Central Highlands of Vietnam attend schools, I applied #RightProblem to characterize the problem of gender inequality among ethnic minorities in these areas. The thought process helps me ensure that my proposed solution effectively addressed the right problem. Also, the flexibility in the learning mode has enabled me to take classes anywhere at any time, as long as I have a strong internet connection, saving time that I can spend on my social projects instead.
For me, Minerva is not just a learning environment, but it naturally acts as my second family. I appreciate how my classmates and roommates have immediately supported me when I struggled, the warm hug from Ivy (Taipei Student Life Team) when I cried, and the motivating conversation with professor Volkan when I was struggling with mental health. Thanks to this wholehearted support, I have been able to scale my project and support more students in turn. Minerva has played a crucial role in helping me win this prestigious award.
If you were inspired by Tuyet's story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, start your Minerva application today.