Whiz Kid Eyes American Dream
Monirath Siv, a Cerritos College honors student, keeps adding to his still-growing list of achievements.
Siv, a Cambodian native that now lives in Long Beach, has only been in the United States for a little over two years, but has already made a bigger impact on his community than most people do in their whole lives.
He left Cambodia in 2006 in search of the American Dream. He wanted to take full advantage of all of the educational opportunities that America offers. He believes many things can be accomplished with hard work and nothing is going to stop him from being successful.
Siv arrived in the U.S. when he was a senior in high school and attended Long Beach Jordan High School. He had quite a difficult time adjusting to life in America and the culture shock that came with the change, but he used the courage and strength his parents armed him with to overcome the challenges he faced.
He worried he might not graduate because of the language-barrier he experienced, but just like with everything else, Siv excelled. He ended up graduating high school on time with a perfect 4.0 GPA and was asked by the school principal to speak as valedictorian for the Jordan High School class of 2007.
Siv takes two buses to get to Cerritos College. It is an hour and 20 minute journey for him, but it is definitely worth every minute. He believes the school offers him the best quality of education possible and strengthens his academic resume that he will use when it comes time to transfer.
The Coca-Cola Two-Year Colleges Scholarship he received last year was just a beginning of his national recognitions.
In April this year Siv was chosen as California’s 2009 New Century Scholar, namely the top scorer of the state, as well as All-California First Academic Team, and named to 2009 All-USA Community College Academic Team. The good news came one after another. He was also named one of the nation’s top scholars by the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship Program. He was among 30 students chosen from nearly 500 applicants from two-year colleges nationwide.
Both the All-USA Team honor and the JKC Scholarship are very rare honors bestowed upon a student and a campus. In fact, Siv is the only Cerritos College student to win either, let alone both, of these national honors in the college’s history.
With these national honors, Siv added to his list of achievements including the College Access Cal-SOAP Scholarship and the Lucy and Joseph Cho Foundation Scholarship.
Amazingly, Siv somehow finds time to volunteer with numerous organizations while working hard and excelling in academic achievement.
“As a lifelong learner I want to learn more things beyond schoolwork,” said Siv. “I extend my academics by bringing my energy and skills to the community in a form of volunteering in order to experience new things.”
Siv spends time volunteering as a tutor at Thomas Jefferson Elementary in Bellflower. He also volunteers at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, where he has been donating his time for over two years, as well as at the college’s health fairs.
His work at the health fairs led to an honors research project that analyzed the correlation between gender and hypertension. Siv submitted his research to the 2008 Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research and despite the fact that this conference is primarily for four-year college students, his abstract was accepted.
Siv plans to expand his education by double majoring in biomedical engineering and chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis beginning the fall 2009 semester.
Biomedical engineering will give Siv the ability to fuse his two loves together and use his engineering capabilities to serve medical purposes. He will be able to use research and technology to do things such as create new biomaterials and discover new medicines.
“I feel that I belong to Cerritos College,” said Siv. "I feel very grateful to everyone at Cerritos for helping me prepare for entering a new stage in my academic journey."
Siv has already accomplished so much since arriving in the United States, but he knows that everyone always has something about them they can improve and he is no exception.
“At school I am always aware that I have so much to learn and I am also aware of my shortcomings,” he said. “I continue to work diligently to better myself.”