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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - From the orphanage to the doctorate

From the orphanage to the doctorate

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Leap Sovann pictured in Paris. Photograph supplied

As a scholarship student for nearly a decade in health and science, Leap Sovann found that life can be full of challenges as well as opportunities.

In a white doctor’s jacket, Sovann, a gynecologist and chief of the Preah Kossomak maternity ward, says he’s come a long way from his childhood as an orphan.

He couldn’t have done it without the scholarship, he said.

From a young age, Sovann knew that the most important thing he could do was put his heart and soul into his studies.

“In my generation, there was never enough material to study, and I was always living in difficult conditions,” he said.

“I had to save every penny to buy books and school materials.”

And while getting a scholarship to study abroad required a lot of hard work – Sovann came in first among all the country’s outstanding mathematics students in high school – he found that once he was abroad, his studies became even more rigorous. The material was new and more up to date than the books he’d been using.

“I had a yearlong scholarship, but catching up to the new material took half that time,” he said.

As an orphan, Sovann’s education never came easy, as he had to work to provide for himself from a young age.

But even despite his struggles, he found comfort in the strength of his mind and the rigors of medical studies.

Sovann gave this advice to students pursuing health and science degrees: “To achieve success in health and sciences, one has to be very daring. If a person is afraid of an injection, for instance, he or she is not cut out to be a doctor. To excel, a student must also have excellent English or French skills, as most medical books available to Cambodians are in English or French.”  



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