Mentor Hoeun Sopheak encourages students/youth and especially those who want to pursue their degree abroad dare to ask for and seek help when they need. Please read the Q&A session of Sour Mouy with mentor Sopheak below:
Sour Mouy: Could you briefly tell your background?
Sopheak: I am from Kampong Cham, moved to Phnom Penh after finished high school and got an undergraduate degree in Economic Information Technology under the government scholarship for excellence and a Master’s Degree in Political Communication under Fulbright Scholarship. After that, I started managing different projects that used communication and media platforms, traditional and digital, to inform people about and advocate for a variety of social issues including, safe migration, anti-labor exploitation, soft skills development, employability, and to encourage civic engagement and political debates. On top of that, I also have experience in communication and tools development for behavior change.
Sour Mouy: You used to get a scholorsship under Fullbright Scholarship Programme. Could you share experience and tips to win the scholarship?
Sopheak: To want to get a scholarship is easy, but to actually get is the challenge. First thing you need to do is to ask yourself what you want to study, why you want to study that, and how that subject/degree will benefit you as a person and as a result how it will benefit the country. And, the best way to do it is to prepare! I set getting scholarship as a my long-term goal and broke it down into smaller, more achievable steps:
1. Learned and researched about scholarships I wanted to apply as well as the
subjects I wanted to pursue.
2. Learned about scholarship timeline and their requirements, so that I could be
better prepared and managed my time.
3. Got my school transcripts early because I knew it took time.
4. Got my English test score (TOEFL or IELTS) early because I wanted to give
myself time in case I had to retake the test to get the score I needed. To get the
desired score, I had to practice, and I am not good at taking this type of
standardized test, I took a short prep course to familiarize myself with the test
and what to expect.
5. Ask people I trusted to write recommendation letters for me. For Fulbright, 3
referees are required, one of whom must be your teacher/professor.
6. Started writing study objective and personal statement. I would recommend
starting this one early, when you have done your research on subject preference
and school/scholarship you want to apply. Once you have the draft, you can
share it with people you trust for feedback and to get their impression.
7. Then when the application is out, you are all set to go.
Sour Mouy: Could you share your expericen living and studying in the US while you were studying your Master's Degree there?
Sopheak: My life in the US was a game-changer experience. It was a great opportunity for cultural exchange. I got to know more about America and American culture, while they got to know more about Cambodia. Academically, it was rigorous, challenging, and rewarding at the same time. I got to learn about different kinds of theories, but at the same time applied those theories into our research studies and published them in various
Sour Mouy: Why are you volunteering to be a mentor on Sour Mouy platform to help provide advice to students/youth especially to those who seek advice?
Sopheak: I would love to share what I know with the younger generations. I do think that they have great potentials and I hope I can provide guidance and encourage that they need to succeed.
Sour Mouy: What are the challenges facing mentees seeking advice and what are the solutions?
Sopheak: Some of the things that students in Cambodia can improve on is to leverage the information that they have great access to on the internet, absorb it in a critical way, and try to be courteous and cautious for their online presence. Also, they should dare to ask for and seek help when they need.
Sour Mouy: What Messages do you want to send to students/youth and especially those you want to pursue their Master's Degree abroad?
Sopheak: My message to those who want to get scholarship abroad is that be proactive and determined and work hard for what you want. Nothing comes easy. At the end of the day, your grit and perseverance will prevail.