Vanika is in her first year at Lafayette College. Vanika wants to be a changemaker and inspire women around the world to take up leadership positions. After graduating from high school in 2020, Vanika was awarded scholarships from four different universities. Since arriving on campus at Lafayette, Vanika has quickly found ways to get engaged. She is part of the Lafayette College Math Club, Women in Computing Club, Tae Kwon Do Club, and she has also joined the International Student Association.
Before attending Lafayette College, Vanika was team leader for the first ever book fair in Siem Reap. She volunteered with the Center for Khmer Studies and American Corner to plan and execute a three-month project to organize this book fair. She supervised booth and registration teams and lead a 5,000 person event. Vanika and her team worked to send invitations to twenty high schools, universities, and other educational institutions to drive participation for the event.
In 2021, Vanika conducted a virtual workshop on the importance of fighting against cyberbullying. She has witnessed many of her peers being bullied online, especially young girls, a problem that was further exacerbated during the pandemic when virtual communication became the norm. Vanika is passionate about helping girls engage in leadership roles, learn about the power of technology, and step into their power to change the world.
Vanika grew up in rural Kampong Cham Province at a teacher training college where her father worked. Vanika and her family lived at the college until 2007, when they moved to Siem Reap, near Angkor Wat. Starting in a new province with nothing was challenging for their family, but Vanika’s mother knew the importance of education, having been forced to give up on her own studies because of societal pressure to marry young and become a housewife, and so she sent her to school. Vanika recognized the sacrifice her mother made and studied diligently, maintaining strong grades through high school where she was ranked as the top student in her senior class. Because of her stellar academic performance, Vanika was selected as the Class Monitor. In high school, she also founded a study club and met every weekend to tutor her friends and peers who were struggling in math, chemistry and biology.
Outside of school, Vanika contributed to her community by working as a volunteer youth at Women’s Crisis Center where she helped women who suffered from domestic violence and sex trafficking, and raised awareness through events that educate the community and incoming tourists.
Highlights From Vanika’s Past Work Experience:
- Team Leader, First Center for Khmer Studies Book Fair in Cambodia
- Volunteer, Cambodia Women’s Crisis Center
- Interpreter, Australian Education and Scholarship Expo Week by IDP Education Cambodia
Languages Spoken: English, Khmer, and Chinese