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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Meet Scholarship Winner Kunthea Chan Roeum

Jun 23, 2022

Twenty-seven-year-old, First Generation interdisciplinary studies student Kunthea Chan Roeum has been awarded a University Without Walls Scholarship. Originally from Cambodia, she now lives in Easthampton, Massachusetts, and works with people with disabilities as a direct care worker. Attending college has always been a dream of hers. Kunthea is finishing her degree with a concentration in human services. She hopes to continue her education and earn her master's degree to eventually be a cognitive behavioral therapist.

Every adult student has a story. What's your story?

The most significant major challenge that emerged was learning English as my second language. The challenge of my lifelong learning is to fundamentally rethink an early learning experience and educational system that attempted to establish within me a rigid mindset. I have learned that people are vulnerable creatures through political beliefs, wars, and survival skills. The culture in which I was brought up taught me to fear change, speaking up, and being different. I had carried those beliefs with me until I got a chance to study in the USA. Attending college has been my lifelong dream and I have worked very hard to make it a reality. I believe age is irrelevant and I am never too old to learn, change careers, or follow my passion. As an immigrant with no family here, I don't have the kind of support system that traditional students have, so the only way I am going to succeed is by having confidence in myself and my ability.

What does winning this scholarship mean to you?

The gap between the cost of tuition and what one can afford to pay out of pocket has become so great that scholarships are practically a necessity for students such as myself. My road to a degree would be much more difficult without the kindness of others. I am so over the moon from receiving a scholarship that words cannot describe how I feel right now. This scholarship makes it possible for people like me, from different walks of life, to achieve our academic and career goals. In addition, receiving this scholarship will help me balance school, life, and work, so that I don't have to deal with additional obstacles such as increasing my workload to pay for tuition, fees, books, rent, buying groceries, and utility bills. In other words, this scholarship will increase the time I have to focus on my studies, rather than having to increase my work time to meet my financial obligations.

What is the best part about being a UWW Interdisciplinary Studies student?

The best part of being a UWW interdisciplinary studies student is I can fulfill my job's responsibilities and attend classes to further my education at the same time.

How do you balance work, school, and other responsibilities?

Unfortunately, it isn't an easy job to balance work, school, and personal life. I always try to maintain a high level of self-confidence, and learn to take pride in my identity as a student. I'm working a full-time job through which I have learned some important skills such as responsibility, discipline, and time management. These skills help me to balance my work, school, and personal life.

What are your plans for the futureprofessionally and personally?

I have always been fascinated by human behavior and thought patterns. Indeed, it has become very clear to me that after I graduate from UWW, I wish to pursue a master's degree and be a cognitive behavioral therapist. Being a therapist is a dream of mine and I'm working hard every day to make it a reality. Helping others find more peace, happiness, security, and success in their lives is the bottom line motivation that drives me to be a CBT therapist.


*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the person being featured and do not necessarily reflect those of the University.