Nguyen “Zoey” Vu - Mathematics

Studying Mathematics
University of Waterloo, Canada, class of 2024

“I use Swift because it’s the industry
standard — it’s also easy and accessible,
even for students.

At 17, Zoey Vu found herself in a new country, learning a new language and working various part-time jobs. Canada was a lot different than her hometown of Tân Phú in rural Vietnam. But the change in scenery allowed for new opportunities. In her first month in Canada, Zoey attended a robotics conference — and it was there that her fascination with technology and app development was sparked.

Zoey’s dream of helping her family and community back home is at the core of everything she does. And as she dove into the world of creating apps, she discovered a path that could help her realize it. One of the major keys to Zoey’s journey in tech? Apple. Through the Develop in Swift books and the Swift online community, Zoey taught herself how to code.

“Apple is the industry standard for developers,” says Zoey. “At the same time, Apple Developer Tools make it really easy for students like me to learn. Swift is the most intuitive, smooth, and easy-to-use platform in the industry. And there are so many resources available to help you create any app you can dream up.”

Dreaming up amazing apps is exactly what Zoey did. Inspiration struck her in math class, while learning about the Flocking Algorithm – a computational model inspired by behaviors observed in nature.

“I was missing home so much, and I would remember how my brother and I would sit together and look out at the sunset and watch the birds flocking back to their homes.”

And with that, Birds of a Feather was born — an app she created using Xcode on Mac that simulates the flocking algorithm of birds and encourages children to learn through play. It won Zoey a Swift Student Challenge award in 2023 — an inspiring experience that led her to new connections in the iOS community.

With several internships at major tech companies under her belt, Zoey remains focused on paying it forward as her budding career takes off. Using her iPhone and Mac — with Calendar, Notes, and iCloud to keep her busy life organized — she leads a mentorship program that helps Vietnamese computer science students in the U.S. and Canada find internships and scholarships in the app development industry. And she still has big plans for those back in Tân Phú.

“My dream is to build an app that will help improve the lives of the people in my hometown. It could be something that helps the workers be safer, or an app that connects people to jobs or educational opportunities. Some way to help my family and community — that’s what I’m trying to do.”

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