by Mayukh Saha, guest writer
A journey of a woman from a garbage dump to earning a scholarship in the prestigious University of Melbourne – sounds like a fairy-tale Hollywood movie, right? Well, turns out that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction. Sophy Ron is the hero of this fairy tale and despite all the struggles, she seems to have achieved a lot in her life. Especially, when you consider her struggles.
Sophy Ron started working from a very young age. She lived in a garbage dump. She had to work to make money and feed her family. Her future looked obvious – it was and remained forever in the garbage dump. That’s the only place her eyes could settle on.
In Cambodia, Sophy lived in the garbage dump in Phnom Penh. As a resident of a garbage dump, she did not go to school. She spent her days, shuffling through the garbage, finding sellable items and making money out of it. Whatever she got from selling the trash, she would spend it on feeding her family.
When she was just 11, the Cambodian Children’s Fund or CCF saved her from this tragic situation and helped her get to school. Well, it turned out, Sophy was quite bright. Despite entering school late, she was able to catch up with others fast and did extremely well with her studies. The NGO stood by her side and pushed her to higher levels.
Eventually, this young lady would graduate from the famous Trinity College as a valedictorian and then go on to get a full scholarship from the University of Melbourne.
The young girl stood on the stage and gave her valedictory address. Her fluent English had no trace of the ‘garbage girl’. It seemed as if she had left her past behind. But no, her past is a part of her. She hopes to return to Cambodia for a while and spend time with all her friends. Then, she would come back to start a semester at the University of Melbourne.
A valedictory address is an important speech made by a class valedictorian. In high school or elementary levels, the person who gets the highest marks is termed as the valedictorian. In colleges though, many can receive the same highest honor due to the presence of many magna cum laude or summa cum laude. Hence, the college tends to break any tie situation by the weighted average method and choosing the highest weighted average. Thus, the winner is chosen.
This time, it was Sophy – a bright and deserving girl who had struggled a lot in her past. Congrats Sophy, you so deserved it!