A Bruneian doctoral student Vance Tan Zong Hao recently received the “Impact Award” from the Oxford University Student Union (Oxford SU) for his commitment to the Oxford University community, his college St Edmund Hall and the Oxford University Rugby Football Club (OURFC).

The prestigious award is presented annually to an individual who has made a lasting change to a sports team, club or society, said The Brunei Students’ Union in UK & Eire in a statement.

Image: The Brunei Students’ Union in UK & Eire

The Sultan Scholar’s impacts transcend championing diversity, public engagement, and awareness of disabilities, it added.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tan spotted vital gaps within OURFC which he proactively addressed, leading to his appointment as their first Director of Analytics, Technology and Algorithms.

Alongside this role, he also served as the Editor-in-Chief for his college research journal, among his many other pursuits.

A statement by Oxford SU published across its social media stated that he is a prime role model and exceptional inspiration for people with disability, which in his case is dyslexia and dyspraxia, and for people from ethnic minorities.

“Vance has positively impacted many of us at Oxford by giving examples of the characters a leader should uphold”, said the union.

Upon receiving the award, Tan expressed his gratitude to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam for granting him the opportunity to pursue his doctoral studies.

“The Sultan’s Scholar scholarship has enabled me to excel both in my academic work and extra-curricular pursuits at Oxford, without which this Impact Award would not have been possible. I would also like to pay tribute to my parents as well as officers, teachers and staff at the Brunei Students’ Unit and the Brunei Darussalam High Commission in London for their continuous support, assistance and advice throughout my journey in the UK,” added Tan.

Director of Studies at the Brunei Student’s Unit in London Cikgu Mohammad Danny Aimi said that he was delighted and honoured to be informed that one of their brightest Bruneian students in the UK has received such a prestigious award.

“Although I have known him for less than a year, one cannot miss his leadership ability and charismatic quality. Despite his disabilities, he has made a positive impact on his community at Oxford University. He is an example to all the youth back in Brunei,” he said.

Tan is completing his doctoral degree at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, where he is a member of the Oxford Programme for Sustainable Infrastructure Systems.

His work aims to understand how future flood risks can be optimally managed by sequencing policy changes and the anticipatory actions of adaptation measures at a national scale.

He is mentored by the vice president-elect of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Professor Jim W Hall FREng, who is internationally renowned for his research on risk analysis for infrastructure and water systems.

Tan looks forward to utilising his capabilities and experiences to support Brunei Darussalam in realising its Vision 2035 and inspire the next generation of Bruneian youth. – Analisa Amu



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