Program Director, The Asia Foundation
Course: PhD of Health (Road Safety and Disability)
University: Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
Socheata Sann is The Asia Foundation’s program director in Cambodia. In this capacity, she oversees a portfolio of programs to empower women and youth, strengthen governance, advance regional cooperation and increase environmental resilience and bringing direct day-to-day program support and learning to the program staff while spearheading the development of new programs. This new role in the Asia Foundation has enabled Socheata to apply her research, management and coordination experiences, while learning new fields of expertise in the education, women empowerment, technology and environment. It has also become an opportunity to broaden her knowledge and network in an international organisation context.
After completing her study from Australia, Socheata served in several positions as a road safety consultant in different international organisations. She engaged with a wide range of activities and initiatives from national policy development to grassroots project implementation. Over the past three years, she has completed a number of independent consulting assignments for the Asian Development Bank, Humanity & Inclusion, UNESCAP, Adidas Cambodia, German Development Cooperation and the European Union, in Cambodia and across the region, particularly ASEAN.
Her working and academic experiences have allowed her to build cross cultural experience with people and environment in different countries, such as Australia, Belgium, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Myanmar and Benin.
I was impressed with all the support I received from everyone at CARRS-Q (the research center in the Queensland University of Technology), in term of technical and emotional assistance. It is a place that has given me all guidance and resources related to my research as well as a friendly environment. I enjoyed the culture of support and I appreciated this so much.
Since the beginning of my study, I believe that my research findings and recommendations contribute to real world impact. My research helped to identify and explore the social and cultural constructions and impacts of disability as a result of road crashes on individuals and their families, in addition to the quantitative analysis on the road crash datasets. It also demonstrated how to best develop evidence-based policies that contribute to the development of policy recommendation towards a safer system for all road users, including persons with disabilities, and improvement of quality of their life.
Applying my knowledge and expertise in the field of road safety and program management is my most enjoyable experience. It is the moment that I can see how I have added value to my home country. Thanks to all the support from people around me.
After my graduation, I have still been in contact with and provided assistance to my supervisors, who visited Cambodia several times to implement projects and provide support to stakeholders here. They have also developed proposals and sought further opportunity to collaborate with Cambodian partners. I do hope to collaborate and contribute to any future projects of the Centre and QUT in Cambodia.
Studying hard is the focus of many students. A better option is to study smart, by identifying existing resources and utilising them. This is one of the best parts of the Australia Awards Scholarship. It provides awardees with a very good orientation on all available resources and the next step is for those awardees to utilise them in the right way and right time.
Further, students’ time during their university courses should be allocated not only in studying, but also to developing networks with others, especially those come from different fields of expertise with different backgrounds. Networking is crucial for career development after graduation.
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