If you have your heart set on achieving your goals and transforming your dreams into reality, you will succeed. And you will shine. Because whether you live in a secluded forest or in a big city, a dreamer’s soul always shines bright.
Vunn Sreynich grew up with this mantra. Living in a rural area in Siem Reap, more than 300 kilometers from the capital, she never got intimidated by her big dream to acquire good education in a foreign land.
She definitely knew it won’t be easy, especially for someone who is used to living away from the noise of the city. But her determination pushed her beyond her comfort zone.
She stepped into Phnom Penh and was awarded a scholarship at the American University of Phnom Penh.
“I came to Phnom Penh alone. It is tough to live away from my parents because I have to learn to do things independently. Fortunately, I found a good friend who inspired and encouraged me to achieve my dreams,” Ms Sreynich said.
It was at the university that Ms Sreynich was recommended to apply for the SHE-CAN Scholar Program, a program that helps young women from selected countries to apply for scholarships at US colleges or universities. The participants of the program will be mentored throughout the process of applying for scholarships.
Knowing that the program is her way to achieve her dream, Ms Sreynich submitted all the requirements and showed her best during the interviews.
“I was not sure if I can pass. But I took it as a challenge. I feel weak every time I think of failure. I just thought that if I don’t succeed in this, I can make this a stepping stone to apply for other scholarship programs,” she said.
Ms Sreynich’s optimism and hard work eventually paid off when she got accepted to take part of SHE-CAN.
Through the scholar program, Ms Sreynich was able to get guidance from mentors for her application to a US college.
She worked hard to complete all the paper works and projects for the program, while maintaining good grades at school.
After passing the American College Testing (ACT) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and leading a required project, Ms Sreynich is now on her way to the ultimate fulfillment of her dream.
She will be flying to the US and study at the Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Ms Sreynich will be taking up Public Policy and International Relations.
With excitement and eagerness in her heart, Ms Sreynich vows to do her best and make the most of the big opportunity that has opened for her.
She promises to come back to Cambodia after she graduates and help her homeland prosper.
“I grew up in rural area and people in my community didn’t really value education. I immediately get upset after hearing people say that women can do nothing. I thought that they might not fully understand the value of education if nobody corrects their mindset. That’s why I want to pass this program and prove to them that women have the potential to be successful and become more than what the society thinks they should be. I want to empower women,” she said.
Being a girl from a relatively small country who is now ready to conquer the world’s most progressive nation, Ms Sreynich hopes her story can also encourage people to stop looking down on women’s power and capabilities. Women and men, she said, should be treated equally.
Once she starts her first semester at her new school, Ms Sreynich also plans of joining a music club and show others her singing skills.