National Scholar Study Medicine

Top “National Scholarship” Student Aims to Study Medicine



11-17 January 2009 (Phnom Penh) -  It was a tough challenge for Phok Ratana to get a high score in the scholarship competition for The University of Cambodia’s Samdech Hun Sen Handa National Scholarships program.

“It took many days and even more nights to review my lessons,” said the UC student.

Now, the enthusiastic student has placed first out of a field of about 5,300 candidates for the scholarship.

Phok Ratana, whose father works at a Japanese agency in Phnom Penh, said that she is very proud to be a student of UC, as was her intention, and happier when she knew that she was the top of the list of the scholarship candidates.

Shy and quietly-spoken, Ratana said that it was her ambition to make the most of the opportunity offered by the UC scholarship program and, eventually, to run her own clinic. She hopes to specialize in medicine.  

Dressed informally but with a neatness associated with the ranks of female UC students, she said, “I hope to use my qualifications to bring greater prosperity to my country and raise standards to meet those of our neighbors.”

The 17-year-old student who has a flare for biology, mathematics and chemistry starts a new life of study at UC with a scholarship generously provided by Dr. Haruhisa Handa, Chancellor of UC.

She remembered that during the exam, she saw no evidence of cheating and that it was conducted under the strictest of circumstances. As a result of her study, she said, “I achieved the best result in my life and I am still coming to terms with it. I really do not know what my numerical score was because UC did not show it to me. They simply told me that I came top of the class. I am very proud of myself.”

She added that the exam was conducted in English, which made her achievements all the more commendable. When she arrived in Phnom Penh she looked forward to a new life and taking steps to make her dream come true. “Now I am studying the FastTrax English course at UC before I study for my major.”

“The score encouraged me to keep studying even harder. If I fail two semesters, I will be required to contribute some money,” Ratana said.

Phok Ratana’s classmate Phon Sophea said that she was a friend of Ratana. She said that Ratana is a quiet, patient and studious person.

“Her score in class is always somewhere near the top of the list. She is very active in class assignments and a vocal member of any brainstorming sessions,” Sophea said.

Sophea, who is also a UC scholarship student, said that she will remain friends with Ratana throughout their university careers and beyond.

The Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarship program has provided a total of 500 students with the means to attend The University of Cambodia starting in the study year 2008-2009. These are in addition to the 500 scholarships provided in the previous year. The scholarship program has been offered for four years.

Great care has been taken to ensure the equitable distribution of these 500 scholarships throughout the country’s rural areas and 24 cities and provinces. Equal emphasis has been placed on ensuring a fair distribution of scholarships in terms of gender. It is hoped that this scholarship program will encourage female students to apply for further education courses so as to provide a balance between Cambodia’s gender demographics and further education.

This year, UC selected 500 out of a total of 5,310 high school students who applied for the scholarship competition. Of the 5,310 candidates, 2,872 were male candidates and 2,438 female candidates.

This story by reporter Soy Sophea was published in the January 11-17, 2009 edition of The Cambodia Weekly.

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