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From Cambodia to MSU to PhD Program

Youra Moeun

From Cambodia to MSU to PhD Program

Youra Moeun

Youra Moeun was only nine years old when she moved from her home village in Cambodia to Phnom Penh, leaving behind her parents and four sisters. An American couple had offered to pay school fees for a handful of kids in the capital city, and Youra, a promising student, seized the opportunity.

She studied hard and did well. To cover living expenses, Youra sold books on the street and worked at her Aunt Channy’s food cart in the tourist district. Ten years later, she became the first member of her family to graduate from high school.

In the fall of 2013, Youra moved even further away to attend college at Montana State University in Bozeman. Matthew Bushue, who had worked as a leader on the VISIONS Cambodia program, and VISIONS Director Katherine Dayton helped put Youra through school and shared a home during her five years of settling in to life at an American university. (It was Matthew’s parents who lived in Phnom Penh and sponsored Cambodian students including Youra.)

A few weeks ago, Katherine and Matthew—Youra’s “second parents,” as she calls them—watched with pride as she graduated with highest honors in Chemical Engineering. She is now back in Cambodia for the first time in five years, visiting friends and family before returning to the U.S. to embark on a fully funded PhD program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Way to go, Youra!