LAURENTIAN PORTRAIT
CHANSOKNEA
SOKNEA”MAO ’14
Chansoknea Mao ’14 came to
St. Lawrence from Phnom Penh, Cambo-
dia. She’s an economics major, a College
Assistant in the First-Year Program, a
Thelmo representative and a participant
in the New York City Semester.
But a lot of students can say that.
Soknea has a different story to tell. A
Davis United World College Scholar,
she does so best in her own words, nearly
unedited excerpts from a recent letter she
wrote expressing thanks to Mr. and Mrs.
Shelby Davis, who founded and continue
to fund the prestigious Davis UWC Schol-
ars Program. The Class of 2017 has 16
Davis UWC Scholars, the largest cohort
St. Lawrence has welcomed. —NSB
My first night (on campus), the inter-
national student coordinator explained
to me the blue emergency light and
told me, “If you don't feel safe walking,
just press the button, then someone
will come and help you.” I didn't know
what that actually meant, but there was
one line I remembered: "If you don't
feel safe walking."
Later that night I was starving. I was
the (only) one on campus. I didn't have
a phone. I didn't want to walk out of
the building because I was afraid. Then
I thought this was the perfect time
to push that blue light. A man came
and asked me if I was all right. I said,
"
I'm very hungry. Can you take me to
McDonald’s?" I explained to him how
I just got in as an international student
and didn't know the place. He walked
me to the gas station so I could get
something to eat.
Now after three years I always laugh
when I think of this incident. I am still
that little girl who is always hungry, but
I'm also different. Every day, I wake up
and am excited to go to class to learn
and ask questions. The more you are
willing to learn, the better you become
and the more you enjoy living.
After joining the Investment Club,
I became very interested in making
money. I've thought a lot about this.
I asked myself, am I greedy? No — I
want to use (money) to make this world
a better place, to help others who are
less fortunate.
St. Lawrence has (been a) highlight of
my life experience, and I could not be
more grateful. I would love to say thank
you to the scholarship sponsors who,
with their kind hearts, give donations
to this terrific school to contribute to
people like me (being) able to realize my
dreams and continue to help others. I
believe in education as a means to make
us better people. It is education that I
chose long ago as the means to help my
family and my country. We don't live
just for ourselves, but for others as well.
I BELIEVE IN EDUCATION’
FALL 2013 | ST. LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 21