Passionate baker Rachel rises to the top.

Outstanding Graduate was inspired by friend’s success.
Outstanding Graduate was inspired by friend’s success.

How do you celebrate a big win when a COVID outbreak has locked your neighbourhood down? For Ngoc Bao Tram, (known to her friends as ‘Rachel’) the answer was obvious. She busied herself in the kitchen. “I love cooking and baking,” she says. “I made myself something special – some cream puffs.”

When not baking delicious treats, Rachel applies her talents to studying business. She baked the fancy treats to mark her Outstanding Graduate award – a cash prize for graduating with the highest GPA in her Diploma of Business at UTS College. Before firing up the oven, Rachel called her parents in Hanoi and shared the news of her achievement. “They were very proud,” she says, “I didn’t expect high grades for this semester because I had four subjects (I was doing an accelerated diploma) and I was finding it hard work.” 

Rachel’s hard work more than paid off. Having successfully completed her Diploma, Rachel has gained direct entry second year of Bachelor of Business at UTS and is excited about pursuing her interest in Marketing and Finance. She says, “I’m hoping to do something in market analysis, but I want to be versatile and move between marketing and finance. I’d like to get experience of the corporate world in Australia and then go back to build my career in Vietnam.”

Australia was an easy choice
As a high school student in Hanoi, Rachel had already made up her mind to study abroad. She says, “I studied at an international school, and I decided it was important to go overseas to broaden my knowledge and skills. My older brother was studying in Australia, and I had already visited Sydney and Melbourne. I really never thought about studying in Vietnam.”

Australia was an easy choice. “I really love Sydney and the vibrant life and people here. It’s so beautiful, and it’s not so far from Vietnam. Much closer than America or England,” she says. “I didn’t want to be too far away from home because I was only 16 when I came to do Foundation Studies. That’s pretty young to be living abroad, but I had my brother here. He’s seven years older than me. I have good friends too. Of course, now we’re in lockdown I can’t go back to visit my family and I miss my parents a lot. I call them every day. We do FaceTime.”

The start of an inspiring friendship
Understandably, Rachel never expected her experience in Australia to coincide with a global pandemic.  She says, “I feel like I was a COVID baby. When I first came to UTS College for Foundation Studies, we were in lockdown for most of the course. But I got to go to the orientation on campus before the first lockdown and I met my friend there. Her name is Aye Chan. She’s from Myanmar and she’s three years older than me, but people say we look like twins. We’re great friends now. That orientation week was my best memory.” The friendship with Aye Chan inspired Rachel to push herself academically. “I saw her win the Foundation Studies award,” she says, “and I realised I could step up and follow her lead.”

Plenty of help and support
Rachel took full advantage of the resources and support at UTS College as she rose to the challenges of her diploma. She says, “I think it’s important to ask for help. UTS College provides many opportunities to talk to teachers. I talked to the student adviser a lot and I got plenty of help and support. They also pushed me to work harder.”

She also broadened her experience by engaging in extracurricular activities. “I’m a student helper. I think that helped me to develop confidence and teamwork skills. It also helped me learn about networking. And last semester I joined Kitchen Club. We would get together on Zoom and share recipes,” she says. “I became interested in cooking when I first realised I was going to Sydney to live with my brother. My Mum inspired me too because she cooks a lot. So now, during lockdowns when I’m not studying, I try out new recipes to bake.”

Rachel has some advice for students who want to make the most of their experience at UTS College. She says, “What I learnt is that you should always reach out to your teachers when you need help. If you’re learning Live Online it’s easy to inbox them, or even text them in the lesson. Just go to the message and chat with them. They will absolutely provide you a hundred percent of help and the best support. If you want to achieve a high grade, they are there for you. If you put in the effort, they will help you make it work.”