Huong Dang

Melbourne, VICVietnam

Huong was born in 1986 in a farming family. Her father passed away when she was very young. Her mother had to work very hard just to make a living. The yearly income for the family only came from harvesting a few paddy fields. When Huong was 12 years old, her mother became very sick. Huong decided to drop out of school and gave up her dream of becoming a literature teacher. At 13, Huong arrived in Hanoi by herself, hoping that she could earn some money to support her mother and for her siblings to remain at school. Huong had a lot of hard work, which was too much for a young child. She babysat and woke up at 2am to cook sticky rice and banana cakes to sell. Her life was full of challenges and dangers. There were many drug dealers where she lived and she slept on a small bed under the stairs. Despite all these difficulties her passion for study never stopped. Huong decided to register for a night class at a Continuing Education Centre. Then, a friend introduced Huong to KOTO and in 2006; she became an official trainee at KOTO. In 2007, Huong was offered a waitress position at the Intercontinental Hanoi Hotel Westlake. Two years later, Huong come back to work at KOTO. There, she performed various positions such as Receptionist, Function Co-coordinator, Café Supervisor and Marketing and Communication Officer. In 2011, Huong finished an IELTS course and not long after, she received a scholarship to study at Box Hill Institute (Melbourne, Australia). In 2012, Huong commenced a Diploma of Business Management in Melbourne. She is also a Marketing and Communication volunteer for KOTO International and works part-time at Sofitel Melbourne on Collins. In March 2013, she was selected as Box Hill Institute International Student Ambassador representing Vietnam. At the same time, Box Hill Institute offered Huong a scholarship to study an Associate Degree in Commerce. In November 2013, Huong was honored as Victoria’s International Student of the Year – Higher Education and the Premier’s Award- International Student of the Year. With a $20,000 scholarship, Huong hopes to study a Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Swinburne University in Melbourne. In May 2014, Huong is chosen to be an International Student Ambassador for Victoria Government and works closer with the State Development – Department of Business and Innovation with regards to the activities for international students in Victoria. In July 2014, Huong was announced as one of the finalist for the Most Inspiring International Student of the Year award by CISA (Council International Student Australia). In September 2014 – Huong was a finalist in the Business Idea Competition organized by City of Melbourne and Meld Magazine. In February 2015, Huong starts a journey with Swinburne University of Technology, undertakes a Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Alongside study and work part time, Huong is also an active volunteer for KOTO International, taking care of social media, marketing and communications and running all fundraising event. In addition, Huong is a Pink Hat Ambassador for Breast Cancer Network Vietnam, mainly raise funds from Melbourne and send to Vietnam to support women with breast cancer through the activities that Breast Cancer Network Vietnam is running. Huong was the main organizer for Taste of Auckland – KOTO team in 2015, taking 6 trainees at KOTO to participate in the Taste of Auckland food and wine festival. Because of her passion and the support from KOTO and Box Hill Institute, Huong’s life and her family's have changed completely. Huong is an excellent example for KOTO trainees to follow and realize: All your dreams can come true if you dare to hope and rise to the challenge.