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Vahong Soktheawin is from a humble background, but at the age of 18 she has already proven to be a motivated student with a strong desire to help her country. The young woman, who is currently a senior at Chea Sim Sornthormok High School, has not only been recognised as one of the top students at her school; last year she was named as one of the ASEAN region’s outstanding students.
In December of 2009 she travelled to the Philippines to receive her award along with money and study materials as one of three students in Cambodia recognised by ASEAN countries in their Smart Student competition. It would be a great accomplishment for any student in Cambodia, but as the oldest of five children from a family of modest means, her achievements were particularly remarkable and prove that hard work can overcome any odds.
“I really tried hard to learn and read related documents in order to win the competition,” she said. Before being named a winner of the ASEAN award, she had to go through four competitions in Cambodia. “After I made it through [these], I was selected along with three students to join the final competition in the Philippines,” she said.
In addition to her international recognition, Vahong Soktheawin was selected as a young entrepreneur to represent her high school by Smart Business Group Company.
When she has time to set her studies aside, she writes short stories about youth and love, which she shares with organisations that work with children.
When asked about her plans for the future, she said “I want to be a high-ranking woman who works in the Royal Government of Cambodia, like Bun Rany and Men Sam Orn.”
Vahong Soktheawin’s parents, Kong Hong, 45, and Seng Sotheary, 37, told Lift how proud they were of their daughter’s accomplishments. “We are really happy. We can’t imagine anything better than what she has done,” they said, adding that “Soktheawin has loved studying since she was young. Our daughter always reads books and never wastes her time. She has a clear plan”.
Mak Choraksmey, director of Chea Sim Sornthormok High School, said: “Soktheawin has been the best student since she studied in grade 7 and 8. She makes her school and community proud.”
Vahong Soktheawin is going to join the Youth Summer Camp in Guizhou, China, from August 1 to 9, in an event hosted by China aimed at bringing together students to strengthen ties between China and ASEAN countries.
Vahong Soktheawin is quite proud of her opportunity to join the event, called China- ASEAN Cooperation Week. “I will show off my ability, as well as our culture and civilisation, so that other countries get to know that Cambodia is the Kingdom of Wonder,” she said.