Prize-winner Phetmixay’s long road to Sydney.

Arriving in Sydney for his Diploma of Business is a dream come true for Phetmixay.
Arriving in Sydney for his Diploma of Business is a dream come true for Phetmixay.

“‘Lucky’, that’s what my friends call me,” Phetmixay ‘Lucky’ Douangdara says. “And I think I am lucky.” Good luck might be the reason for the nickname, but there’s a lot of hard work behind Lucky’s academic success. On winning the UTS College Outstanding Graduate award for UTS Foundation Studies (a cash prize for achieving the highest Grade-Point Average in his group), he says, “I’m honoured to receive this award. The day I got the news I was working on my assignments when I received the email. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it! My parents were shocked too, but very proud and happy. They had seen me working hard every night, staying up late.”

From Vientiane to Sydney
Lucky studied UTS Foundation studies from his home in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. He had originally planned to study in Sydney, but COVID-19 restrictions got in the way. Not that he was a stranger to online study. He says, “I graduated high school during September 2020, and everything went online that year because of the pandemic. I learnt from studying online that I had to learn to manage my time carefully.” There were plenty of good memories from the experience. “The best thing was that I got to meet lots of people from different nationalities. I made a lot of new friends, and we still keep in touch,” he says. “Also, the educational system in my country is very different from Australia, and I think UTS Foundation Studies is great preparation for what comes next.”

A dream comes true
Having finally arrived in Sydney to complete his Diploma of Business at UTS College, Lucky says it feels like a dream come true to be here. “UTS College prepared me for this new environment with lots of tips – the culture, food, the people – which helped me to adapt to the new surroundings,” he says. “Now I’ll be able to see my friends and study on campus, which is something I’ve been looking forward to. The first thing I did when I arrived in Sydney was go to the UTS campus. It had been my dream to visit, especially to see the library. I can’t wait to start studying here.”

Next on his agenda, after seeing the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, was catching up with Sydney friends. “I have cousins here, and some of my friends from Foundation live in Sydney. I first came here for a summer camp in 2019, and that’s when I first found out about UTS. When I came home, I told my parents I wanted to study there,” he says. “We researched the university’s reputation, the support and everything and agreed it was the best place to study.”

Preparing to contribute
Lucky’s main study goal is to complete a Bachelor of Business at UTS. He says, “I’m interested in accounting. I’ve studied accounting before, in high school, and I think it’s really important in doing business. I want to run my own business, and one day run our family business – a concrete and construction company. I’m the only child in our family and my parents are important role models. I have learnt about business from watching them. They have always taught me important life lessons and are always by my side. They’ve shown me that when you work hard for something, you can achieve it.”

One of his more immediate goals is to be part of the UTS College community. “Being a Student Helper is a dream of mine. I haven’t officially discussed it with the Student Centre, but now I’m in Sydney I want to be involved,” he says. “I’ve also been invited to join the AIESEC (an international association of students in Economics and Business), so I’ll try to participate in that.

Looking back on his experiences so far, Lucky has some tips to share with new students: “First, I would say to believe in yourself,” he says. “I remember when I first started at UTS College, doing UTS Foundation, I was scared to make mistakes. But now I say believe in yourself – believe you can do it – and then always work hard and hand in every assignment. Be confident in who you are and contribute, especially in teamwork. When you contribute you will learn as much as possible and your hard work will pay off. You will succeed.”