Villathina “Thina” Ly will be attending Occidental College in the fall of 2023. She comes from Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia and is the only child of her family. Both of her parents always encouraged her to focus on her education. Thina always found herself inspired by her mother, who did not get to complete her high school education, but recognized the opportunities it could give her daughter. Thina graduated as one of the top students in her class, and passed the National Examination, receiving an A, the highest grade. Upon high school graduation, Thina was offered scholarships to continue her tertiary education at three different universities. Along with her strong academic performance, Thina was also involved in extracurricular activities. Starting in the 6th grade, Thina began participating in public speaking competitions and went on to become the champion of the NTC Public Speaking Competition in 2018, out of 82 contestants. As a reward, she flew for the first time to the United Kingdom, where she attended a one-week course in General English East Sussex College Hastings, and visited London. She really likes public speaking and strives to participate in it throughout her entire life. In 2020, she was chosen to represent all of the Sovannaphumi schools in Phnom Penh to compete in the 9th National ASEAN Quiz Cambodia. In grade 12, she joined Global Online Collaboration with Japanese students. This online exchange program gave a chance to all participants to get glimpses of both Cambodian and Japanese cultures. The program also included discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals, which Thina has been interested in ever since.
Thina tries to make every effort to volunteer and does so whenever possible. Thina previously served as a Speaker Assistant and Facilitator at Genius Tables Cambodia, a workshop that aimed to help prepare high school students for the national exam and their future career paths. For her Take the Lead project “Litter Away – Leave it Clean”, Thina and her volunteers collaborated with a waste management company to organize weekly trash pick-up activities. Her project also involved raising awareness of the importance of properly discarding trash and the harms of littering. In 2022, she taught English to children in the suburbs as a volunteer at Global Peace Alliance Cambodia. She co-founded REAN Buddies, an online study club that provided a free of charge tutoring service and tips and tricks with low-income students taking the national exam. She was also a maths tutor for this study club. In addition, she also participated as a delegate at the American University of Phnom Penh 2nd Model United Nations meeting and was a member of the Paragon International University Model United Nations club. She is currently volunteering as an article writer and a public relations officer at The SEED Cambodia, a non-profit digital platform that fosters a reading culture in Cambodian society, as well as encouraging youth to share and debate on current issues in global social matters, economy, entrepreneurship, and development.
These experiences, along with her high school history classes helped Thina find her passion for international relations. Her ultimate career goal is to become a respected diplomat who will represent Cambodia in negotiation, maintaining peace, and conflict resolutions. Thina is dedicated to making this impact because she believes that fostering diplomatic relations between countries differ in cultures and diversity is crucial, as these relationships can either benefit or threaten her home country. Thina is excited to continue her education at university in the United States, and believes she’ll never truly stop being a student – as she believes life always has something to teach her. She hopes to use what she will learn at Occidental College to contribute to the diplomatic field in Cambodia and improving the standards of living of Cambodians.