For motivated students these days, simultaneously studying two majors is the norm, but 20-year-old Keo Bun Theng has gone even further by enrolling in three majors, and excelling at all of them.
Before graduating in 2008 from Sonthormok High School where he was named an outstanding student in Khmer literature, he was selected in a nation-wide search to take an exam in Siem Riep. His high scores netted him two full scholarships; one in teaching English as a foreign language at Cambodia Mekong University (CMU) and another in international relations at the University of Cambodia (UC). On top of that he is a paying law student at the Royal University of Law and Economics.
Despite his triple major, he has been able to rise above his classmates in each of the subjects. At RULE he has received a number one ranking in the class for two years in the row. At CMU he is a top ten student in terms of his GPA, and he has straight As with few exceptions. While his grades are impressive, the fact that he still finds time to do extracurricular activities and volunteers is even more extraordinary. At Cambodia Mekong University Keo Bun Theng is an assistant dean and project coordinator, a role in which he designs policy for school projects, assists teachers, tutors students and designs tests and curriculum.
He has also joined a number of competitions, including a youth environmental debate and outstanding student debate on education, disasters and environment organized by the Ministry of Environment in 2010, where he finished in third price. He also participated in the Client Counseling seminar organized annually by USAID.
Keo Bun Theng admitted that it has been a challenge for him to find time for outside projects or socializing since he spends 10-12 hours a day on his classes, and he even finds it difficult to find time for family and friends. Hew says he often feels overworked and stressed out since he has so little time to unwind, but he knows that that it will be worth it, and people close to him understand his situation. “I am not a really good son or a good friend,” he said. “However, they are very proud of my studies.”
Although students might think it would be overwhelming to do the work from 3 different majors, Keo Bun Theng said that he is able to manage his time and prioritise his work so that it is manageable. He said we should give priority to the tasks that are urgent and important and then move on to other tasks if there is time, rather than trying to do everything at once. “You can do it if you think you can because the word ‘cannot’ is just an opinion, not a fact,” he said.