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When Rouet Sokhom arrived in Phnom Penh, he didn’t know anyone. He asked a monk for accommodations at Wat Neakwoan and has been working hard towards his university degree ever since.
Rouet Sokhom, now a fourth-year student writing his thesis in Khmer literature at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, has endured many challenges on the road to success; most significantly, financial ones. In addition to attending class, Rouet Sokhom works a part-time job to fund his studies. “I used to work at a restaurant from 5pm to midnight and earned only US$25 per month,” he said, adding that before this he held a variety of jobs on construction sites, at CamboSix, at Lucky supermarket and at the Hun Sen library.
Despite his time constraints, Rouet Sokhom was elected as the president of the Student Association of RUPP and, at the same time, as president of the Red Cross Youth Club of RUPP.
These positions have helped build up his credentials, as well as give opportunities to his peers. Recently, he helped organise the RUPP football league. “What was difficult was that I did not have any experience to do that, but I made it, finally,” he said.
Rouet Sokhom is the only one among seven siblings from Battambang province who has been able to attend university. He says it is possible “because I have a scholarship and am always on top. Otherwise, I would not have a chance to study.”
“I nearly dropped out of school while I was in high school because of my family’s condition.”
In the future Rouet Sokhom hopes to be a teacher of Khmer literature.
“Though a teacher’s salary is little, I am proud of this profession because I can share my knowledge. It’s enough for me,” he said.
Since he became the president of the Student Association, Rouet Sokhom’s work has increased substantially. He often gathers students for internships and study tours. He takes pride in his attentiveness during lectures and involvement in debates with friends.
“If we want success, we not only need to study, we also need connection. We should always have good communication and great attention with people,” he said.