Seven Cambodians have been chosen to take part in the Fulbright scholarship program where they will pursue a master’s degree in the United States.
The young scholars – Sou Jolyda, Sopha Boramey, Kong Ratanakvotey, Huy Lyhour, Chuong Thort, Oung Ty Keithya and Heang Vanny – are now preparing to take the leap into the unknown.
Jolyda, a graduate of the Institute of Foreign Languages and the National University of Management, will study law and diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts.
“Applying for Fulbright wasn’t easy,” she said. “But, if we know exactly what we want to study, what to write about, how to answer their [interview] questions, and meet all the criteria, I think that greatly helps alleviate some difficulties.”
“I knew about Fulbright since I was in high school. It really interested me, so I studied hard and worked in [relevant] fields in order to get the scholarship. I invested a huge amount of time preparing for it,” she added, encouraging others to not be put off by the rigorous application procedures.
Keithya, who previously studied at the Royal University of Phnom Penh and at Pannasastra University, will head to Syracuse to study environmental policy at the State University of New York.
“I wanted to apply for Fulbright for a long time, since I was in school. I told myself that if I wanted to get a Master’s degree, I would definitely apply for Fulbright,” he said.
On hearing he had been accepted to the program, Keithya said he “felt surprised because I could just not believe that I passed the final stage.”
Jay Raman, public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, said the Fulbright scholarship program offered Cambodians the opportunity to gain knowledge from top professors at some of the country’s best universities.
“Fulbright alumni have come back from the experience and gone on to have incredible success in a wide variety of fields from government, public service, civil society, arts and culture, you name it,” he said.
Borei Sylyvann, president of the Fulbright and Undergraduate State Alumni Association of Cambodia, said his parents were overjoyed when they found out he had been accepted to the program in 2010.
“My parents were so happy when they got the news. Before we left for the US, we attended an orientation session at the embassy, along with my parents. They met and talked with the ambassador. It was a great achievement for our family to be proud of.”
He added that the Fulbright alumni network offers students access to jobs and internships.