Growing up in a rural community in Kampong Cham province, Sin Sopharith has personally witnessed and experienced the hardship of accessing public services, clean water and sanitation. He had seen the needs and challenges most people endure to get even the most basic health check-up or a source of clean drinking water. Sopharith went through the same suffering, so he promised he will lead real change and solve his community’s dilemma. He aimed to become an expert in public policy and management and be directly involved in addressing the needs and challenges of local community by establishing efficient and accountable local government across the kingdom.
To make this dream come true not just for himself but for the whole Cambodia, Sopharith is now striving hard to study in a foreign land to get the highest quality of education. He believes that being in another place with diverse cultures and different set of beliefs and knowledge, he will have a wider understanding on the difficulties Cambodia is facing. He also acknowledges the fact that other countries have better training programmes that will equip him with the right knowledge and skills to perform his dream job. So, he applied for an Australian scholarship to acquire the learning he needs.
“Australia is best known for its diversity, effective governance, world class education and healthcare system as result of its higher degree of press freedom, heavy investment on education and healthcare, independent judicial systems and the greater access to information about public expenditure.
“These will strengthen my skills and knowledge which will enable me to contribute to Cambodian government’s commitment to ensure efficient and accountable local government in Cambodia and beyond.”
With his passion and commitment to build a better society where everyone lives well and healthy, Sopharith will be pursuing his Master of Public Policy and Management in Melbourne through the Australia Awards Scholarship (AAS) early next year.
But it wasn’t an easy journey for Sopharith. To successfully pass the scholarship, he faced so many struggles and failures.
“I first attempted the Intake 2018, but despite reaching the final stage of the selection process – interview – I failed to be awarded as the result of overconfidence, but poor preparation. I felt depressed and full of sentiments about myself for months,” Sopharith shared.
He recalled, “The failure, however, has never undermined my ambition and I was committed to close the gap, thanks to the feedbacks provided by the interview panelists, by reviewing all the strengths and weakness of my performance during the interview. I started to realise that I gave vague plans and the development impacts which were generic and made me less competitive compare to other applicants.”
Instead of letting his first defeat weigh him down, Sopharith tried to prove himself through hard work and perseverance. He was determined to be one of the 50 highly-qualified candidate for the prestigious scholarship.“I really want the scholarship. I spent two hours every day for four months to study, and that’s on top of all the things that I did. I edited and proofread my application to make sure I get listed for the Intake 2019. When I got selected for the interview, I put every effort to review my application, draft notes and conduct mock interviews.”
When he was in front of the panelists, he showed his true self – confident, determined, motivated, go-getter – and his interviewers were convinced that he deserved a spot in AAS.
With all that he had been through to be one step closer to his goals, Sopharith reminded younger Cambodians to dream high and be well-prepared in achieving those dreams.
“First, you need to carefully study the priority areas. If you want to get scholarships, you need to reflect on your competitiveness and the improvements you need to make.
“Second, choose the course that reflects your educational background, professional working experience, personal goals and the positive impact that your course may give to your fellow Cambodians upon your return.”
He emphasised that with the opportunities being opened for young Cambodians to gain education abroad, it is important to always think of what these opportunities can bring to the whole populace and not just to one person.
“Having the passion alone does not guarantee you a spot anywhere. You need to work so hard to develop your strengths and improve your weaknesses. These cannot be made possible without self-refection and openness to the feedback of other people. Believe in yourself and keep pursuing your dreams with self-discipline. If you fail on your first try, don’t be scared to take another chance.”
The prestigious and merit-based scholarship programme of AAS is an initiative of the Australian government for Cambodian students who want to contribute something for the betterment of their homeland.