Congratulations to Thien for his offer to study Computer Science at Keble College, University of Oxford.
It’s a town that Thien already knows well, having travelled there last year to compete in the ‘Bebras’ computational thinking challenge, where he took third prize. He’ll be participating in the 2021 edition in a few weeks’ time too - albeit online - as well as in the British Mathematics Olympiad; another annual global challenge for some of the world’s brightest young mathematicians, and one in which Thien’s extraordinary skill in the discipline has brought him repeated success over the years.
Opportunities to stretch and challenge himself beyond the curriculum have been an important aspect of Thien’s time at Shrewsbury, and as mentor to the school’s South East Asia Mathematics Competition (SEAMC) team, he’s also been keen to help other aspiring mathematicians to stretch their skills.
He now believes that these experiences really helped him to perform in the pressure cooker of the Oxford interviews, and be able to approach different problems and concepts in a variety of different ways. He’s grateful too to Head of Computing, Mr Lynn, and Mathematics legend, Mr Baxter, who provided specific guidance following “mock” interviews and helped him to better understand the style of questioning that he was likely to experience.
Thien’s love of computing started in Year 5 when he was introduced to a graphical programming language in ICT. Whilst being relatively simplistic, the ability to code and manipulate outcomes on screen was an instant fascination, and something that opened his eyes to possibilities presented by computer technology.
At university he hopes to take his computing knowledge to the most advanced level, and whilst the theoretical aspects of Oxford’s course are of particular interest (along with the charm of being in a relatively small, picturesque town), he’s still to hear from several other universities, and the possibility of progressing to a top US university is still very much on the cards.
Wherever he goes, Thien - who joined the school fourteen years ago - will miss Shrewsbury, will of course be missed in turn by anyone who has shared his journey here. “[Shrewsbury] has been a special place for me”, he says, “where I have really enjoyed getting involved in all sorts of things I didn’t expect, and every day am lucky to be part of some really interesting and lively discussions that help me to see the world in a different way. It’s been a real privilege to have grown up in this environment”.