I was born in Tra Vinh province, Kampuchea-Krom (South Vietnam). I am Khmer-Krom (literal translation is South Cambodian), a name given to the indigenous people from the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam – a not so friendly place for people of my culture. My father escaped South Vietnam in pursuit of a better life for us in the land of the free – leaving behind his wife, my sister and me. I was one year old and my sister was one month old. He promised my mother that he would return for us once he settled in the Western world. After five heart-breaking years of waiting for my father, and refusing to believe he had died along the way, my mother decided to take control of her own destiny. My mother, sister and I fled Vietnam in search of my father. It was a long and difficult journey. We spent months wading through dense jungle, dodging bullets from authorities, and avoiding landmines; intentionally planted to discourage freedom seekers. We finally made it to the refugee camp in Thailand. And to our great pleasure were reunited with my father. Together, we made our journey west.
Through my long and dangerous journey to America, I experienced much pain and discomfort but also a great sense of gratitude that altered my view of life and humanity. Through the eyes of a child, I was able to capture the sincerity and selflessness of all the volunteers and missionaries that were working in the refugee camp. I remembered telling myself that if one day I was able to live in the land of the free, I would give back what had been given to me. I would show the same kind gestures that I had received. Reflecting back, my story might seem like a movie because it’s so surreal, but yet my story is not much different from the stories of many fellow immigrants from Southeast Asia. These childhood experiences created a fundamental foundation of my self-determination, grit, resilience, desire to serve others and ultimately defines who I am today. I remind myself that the obstacles of that journey do not compare to troubles of everyday life. Reflecting on that journey gives me strength.
I arrived to the United States at the age of 9. It was a challenge to learn the language and assimilate to American culture, but with lots of help and support from my amazing sponsor, mentors, teachers and community, I more than overcame these challenges – I thrived. In high school I was awarded the Doorways Scholarship, which paid for four years of my college tuition. I graduated from University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Management Information System (MIS) – a business degree that specializes in data analysis, programming and organization. Immediately after college I started my career in the education finance industry and have been in the industry for over 18 years.
My experience in education finance is what brought me to Esani. I started as a Financial Aid Leader and was promoted to the Assistant Director. When I relocated to Austin, I was offered the unique role of working remotely as a Director of Compliance and Financial Aid. A role in which I’ve learned so much by supporting the Financial Aid Team and Management Team in both PMTS Sacramento, San Jose and Esani. I’ve now been with the Esani Family for over 8 years. I am grateful for all the amazing experiences, opportunities, love and support that Esani has given me.
Now I’m ready for a whole new challenge and volunteered to bring my passion for service and competitive spirit to the role of Corporate Enrollment Leader supporting both of our schools, not just as a team leader but as a front-line member of the Enrollment Team. I can’t wait!
Fun Facts, I’m fluent in 3 different languages. I’m the co-founder of a non-profit youth organization based out of Florida. I love salsa dancing.
I’m a believer in hard work, persistence, and a relentless commitment to never stop pursuing personal and professional growth.