Dec 27th, 2023 12/27/23 | Community Stories

Grade A

Sokchea's Journey from Meatball Seller's Daughter to Top National Exam Achiever

In the new year, Sokchea will achieve the second of two childhood goals: to attend university.

Her first dream to gain the top A Grade in the National Exam - the most important test for Cambodian students and a crucial factor for admission into universities in the country - was accomplished last month.

Sokchea, 19, was the only Cambodian Children’s Fund student to pass with a perfect score.

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Sokchea was the only CCF student with a Grade A
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I will do my best at university to get the skills and knowledge to pursue my dream of getting a good job.

— CCF student Sokchea

It is an extraordinary achievement and a well-deserved reward for her years of dedication and hard work.

“I was so happy to get Grade A,” says Sokchea.

“My mum and dad are proud of me. My dad was excited; he told a lot of people that I got a Grade A. I will do my best at university to get the skills and knowledge to pursue my dream of getting a good job.”

Sokchea's journey began with a humble background. Her parents worked various jobs, from farmhands to construction laborers, to provide for their three daughters.

Sokchea's grandmother raised her in the countryside to provide stability while her parents worked in other provinces.

With their ongoing financial struggles, Sokchea's mother heard about CCF and applied for her daughter's admission. Sokchea was accepted into the full Education Program in 2014 when she was 10 years old.

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A young Sokchea after joining CCF

“My mum really focuses on studying because she said that the family is poor and if we go to school, her generation will be the end of the poor family. So, she tries hard to teach us about how powerful education is,” says Sokchea.

Her words of encouragement had the right impact.

Sokchea excelled in her studies and quickly became a standout student in her year.

Her younger sister, Sokcheata, now 16, won a scholarship to study at the International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP) in 2019.

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L: TOP: Sokchea (L) receives a student award from CCF Founder Scott Neeson in 2018

Sokchea developed a passion for science and technology in STEM classes at CCF’s Neeson Cripps Academy high school.

She even built a robot coded to draw perfect spirals, which was showcased at the 17th Annual Cambodia STEM Festival in Phnom Penh earlier this year.

“I started STEM classes in Grade 7 and really enjoyed it. STEM is important; we need to know about science and technology to live in the 21st century,” she says.

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Sokchea with her drawbot

Sokchea was also an outstanding young CCF leader, taking part in leadership events such as camping and volunteering to help others in her community.

She was one of the student organizers of this year’s Annual Youth Leadership Event (AYLE), a CCF program developed and implemented by youth to foster leadership skills, and was also selected to represent CCF and Cambodia at the 4th Model ASEAN meeting in Phnom Penh in February.

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L: TOP: Sokchea front row 5th left at this year's AYLE event
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I also want to inspire other CCF students and show them that you will get what you want if you work hard.

— CCF student Sokchea

She has applied to two universities to study with scholarships. Her preferred choice is the American University of Phnom Penh (AUPP), where she hopes to pursue her interest in computers, data, and software.

Sokchea's achievements are a testament to her hard work, dedication, and the opportunities she received through CCF. She also credits her parents' support for her success.

“I am proud that I can be a role model for my sisters. I will support and help all my younger sisters achieve their dreams and complete their university. I also want to inspire other CCF students and show them that you will get what you want if you work hard.

Sokchea's story is an inspiration to many young girls in Cambodia who aspire to pursue their education and dreams, especially in STEM fields. With the right opportunities and support, anyone can achieve their goals, just like Sokchea did.

Written by

Kate Ginn

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