My name is Sophat and I am 22 years old. I grew up in a small village on the outskirts of Siem Reap, Cambodia to a loving family of six and I am the second child. I am now a sophomore at the University of Puthisastra, majoring in Information Technology.
I came from an unprivileged family where my mother is a farmer and my father is a carpenter. Since my father doesn’t earn much in my hometown, he decided to migrate to Preah Vihear in order to turn a profit to support the family. Meanwhile, I spent my early childhood living with my mom and three sisters. Sooner or later, my mom and my youngest sister also went there in order to assist with cooking and stuff. Without enough warmth from my parents, sometimes it was hard for me to adapt and live with my grandma who was my caregiver at that time. Luckily, my house was near my school so I was able to walk there otherwise I don’t know what I would have done since I didn’t have any transportation. But I was so ecstatic when, in grade 8, my parents could afford to buy me a bicycle. This gave me a fair chance to study at diverse NGOs which provided free courses such as English and Computer classes. It also helped to lighten the burden for my family too since they didn’t need to spend much on my study.
In the blink of an eye, I finished high school and it was time to continue to my higher studies. Even though my parents didn’t get a high education, they don’t want their kids to be like them so they sacrificed everything to support me and my siblings’ education. Firstly, I didn’t think I would be able to study in Phnom Penh since I would need to spend a lot on both my school and living expenses. Fortunately, I got a 75% scholarship from my university so I was able to talk my parents into allowing me to study in Phnom Penh. However, there was one thing that was haunting my mother’s mind- she worried about me living alone in Phnom Penh, which is a crowded place with numerous strangers and especially thieves. It made her feel uncomfortable to let me study there. I could say that I am lucky because, one day, I was scrolling through a Telegram channel which provides scholarship information and I found ACE. A scholarship program where they offer residence for students from diverse provinces. So I gave it a shot and finally I got accepted.
The scholarship helped lift a huge burden off my family’s financial situation and also my parents’ worries. Moreover, my parents can save the money that would be used to pay my living expenses and invest it in my sister’s higher education which I could say is killing two birds with one stone. ACE not only gives me a comfy place to live, but I also get to learn valuable skills from ACE. On Wednesdays, there is a leadership class which helps to solidify myself and others to be good leaders and people in the future. Plus, we also have special guests who come to share on a variety of topics that we can’t find in school. Moreover, I get the opportunity to give back to society by joining community activities and volunteer work. I also gain more new experiences and get to know new people who I can build connections with. In the end, I want to say that ACE has a huge impact on those who are in need, like myself and others, to pursue their dreams and also to unlock their potential.