Spotlight on Vivien Heng this International Day of Women and Girls in Science

This International Day of Women and Girls in Science we’re shining a spotlight on one of our brilliant Mathematical and Computer Sciences students, Vivien Heng.

photo of vivien heng

We recently shared that Vivien was a 2021 recipient of the Ultimo Prize that aims to discover the best emerging writers in Australia. This prize led to her short story being accepted and printed in the newly released book, ‘Everything, All at Once: Fiction and poetry from 30 of Australia’s best writers under 30’.

The road to studying mathematics and computer sciences was not a short one, with Vivien first completing her Bachelor of Health and Medical sciences in 2019 before turning down a PhD with scholarship in Health and Medical Sciences to face her fears and tackle her Bachelor of Mathematical and Computer Sciences.

When asked about what advice she could offer to women who are considering studying STEM at university, she said:

“Don’t take on every piece of advice that comes your way. Everyone is different, and different advice works for different people. Feel free to try out a piece of advice, but at the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you.”

“Other than that, my advice would be: Follow your heart. Be kind to yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to make mistakes.

“More specifically, take care of your physical and mental health, and don’t feel pressured to take on absolutely every opportunity that comes your way.

“I know that sounds counterintuitive, but there’ve been periods of time where I’ve had to run around the city because I had too many commitments—it definitely takes its toll in terms of exhaustion and sleep-deprivation.

I know there’s a lot of pressure for women in STEM to go above and beyond, and to stand out, but there is nothing wrong with making sure you have time to just breathe. Life is long, and the sacrifices you make have to be sustainable—you should not be sacrificing your health.Vivien Heng

“Finally, you are not representing your gender. Every time you don’t understand something in class, or you feel stupid asking a question, or you make a mistake in front of people on a whiteboard, does not have dire implications for all womenkind.

“You are an individual, and you have every right to not understand something, to ask questions, and most importantly, to make mistakes.”

We are so grateful to have Vivien share her perspectives with us and we wish her the very best for her future studies.

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