2018-19 Scholarships: Reflections on Applicants and Selected Students
In the scholarship selection process, every single decision we make is difficult, from shortlisting to the social investigation stage to the final decision, because ultimately this strongly affects the future of 30 students. If students have made it past the social investigation stage, this means that their academic commitments and families’ economic needs have met our criteria. However, it is difficult to compare students who all have unique ambitions, intelligence, obstacles, and financial situations; it is hard for us to have to compare and give objective value to subjective qualities. We are aware that there will be some tears of happiness and some tears of sadness once we make our final decision.
Each year, PEPY Scholarship applicants are impressive in different ways, and there seems to be a common theme for each group. Kim Ann, one member of the Scholarship Selection Committee this year, said, “The most impressive things that I noticed about applicants this year were their self-motivation, clear goals and passions. For example, in their applications and during the interviews, many students had Plan Bs and even Cs in case their primary goals fall through. They know how to overcome challenges and have thought deeply about what can make them happy. Additionally, they knew a lot about PEPY because they have been through our Dream Management Classes, and many have seen how PEPY Scholarships can bring success through the changes they have made to the lives of those in their communities who have been through our programs. Many of this year’s applicants also expressed interest in giving back to their communities, especially in ways related to the environment and education.”
Channa, another Selection Committee member, explained some of the changes he noticed this year: “I was amazed at how much more students and communities knew about PEPY’s programs than last year, especially in Srei Snam, where students are increasingly seeing the benefits of PEPY Scholarships from their peers who have received them. Also, the students we interviewed seemed truly passionate about education, which shows that the value of continuing on to university is spreading.” Kim Ann also noticed many differences: “As I’ve been involved in the Selection Committee for three years now, I’ve become aware to differences in each round’s applicants. Changes I noticed between previous years’ applicants and this year’s applicants were their maturity, confidence, critical thinking and English language ability. On average, their written and spoken English was higher than that of previous years’ applicants, and their answers were deep, reflective, and pointed, demonstrating their leadership. It’s good for students’ futures and for PEPY’s impact to keep promoting and improving the Dream Management Program and Community Payback Projects within our Scholarship Program.”
Channa, who spent some time getting to know the 30 new Scholarship students during Integration Week, is excited about their motivations and potential. “This is a very uplifting group of students. They showed that they can adapt and work together closely, even though they are from different areas (Kralanh, Srei Snam, Kampong Thom, Kampong Chhnang). One student mentioned to me that already she feels more confident in her social and academic abilities just by being a part of this group,” he said. Kim Ann added, “This year’s PEPY Scholarship students are striving not just for personal success but also to be positive changemakers. They are very gifted, smart, creative and energetic. I am excited to share my skills with them and do what I can to support them. I am excited to be a part of their success and to see how far they will go.”