Our SHE-CAN Scholar:

Ya An Heang

SHE-CAN Scholar: Ya An Heang

Ya An Heang is a first-year student at Denison University majoring in Environmental Studies. Ya An is moving forward to reach her fullest potential. After Yaan’s first semester at Denison, her interest in the environment and agriculture keeps increasing. She tries to explore new classes and apply them to the field she is interested in. Currently, she is working as a Professor Research Assistant at the Department of Politics and Public Affairs. She also takes part in the Denison Asian Student Union as a First-year Leadership Executive Committee. 

Ya An is Cambodian-Vietnamese and grew up in a suburb of the Banteay Meanchey province. She has 2 younger sisters and her parents own a small business selling garlic. Ya An’s ambitions and her parents’ sacrifices motivate her to work conscientiously to accomplish her dream goals. As a result, she graduated with an A-grade on her national exam and became the first person in her family to pursue higher education.

Aside from studying, Ya An is active in extracurricular activities and community services. Even though there were limited opportunities when she was in high school, she created ones for herself or improvised with the available activities. She strengthened her leadership skills by leading the Red Cross Club and participating in Model United Nations where she was exposed to new perspectives, communications, and confidence. She took the initiative to challenge herself by raising funds for charities and educating children about the negative effects of burning plastics in Klaeng Por and Kontout, rural villages of Banteay Meanchey province. Ya An always takes advantage of every challenge. 

During the pandemic, Ya An founded a club called “One Step Forward” to provide more opportunities to high school students to help them improve their English public speaking, critical thinking skills, and confidence by discussing social issues and debating online. Besides that, she trained and worked with 10 high school students to start becoming future leaders by tackling environmental issues and introducing bamboo straws to their community. She has also witnessed a lot of environmental problems in agriculture due to the excessive usage of chemicals by farmers every year which destroys consumers’ health and the environment. This motivates her to pursue a degree in Environmental Studies in order to create an eco-friendly agriculture system in Cambodia and ensure food safety for everyone. Ya An has a strong sense of being a change agent because she believes her contribution can positively impact her community.

Ya An Heang SHE-CAN scholar Denison University

Academic Major

Class of 2027

Mentor Team

Patty Croom, International Admissions, Michigan State University
Gina Milano, ESL Specialist, The Kew-Forest School
Judy Wurtzel, Senior Director, Charles & Lynn Schusterman Philanthropies
Abbey Alpern
Miriam Kaggwa, CFO, BCW