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Eagles of AUPP, Visal Thorn

I’m Visal, a dual degree student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Law from the American University of Phnom Penh (AUPP) and the University of Arizona (UA). As a Vice President of The Student Government Association 9th Mandate at AUPP, I have organized countless events and university trips for the Student Body. My diverse extracurricular involvement included volleyball, basketball, football, dance, and music club. I actively participate in clubs on campus to expand my network and diversify my university life. Throughout my university years, I’ve been fortunate enough to achieve and enjoy athletic growth. In 2022, I earned a bronze medal in football, followed by a silver medal in volleyball in 2023. And in 2024, a gold medalist in volleyball.

While working as a Student Employee at AUPP’s Student Affairs department, I developed strong organizational and communication skills by being involved in the university’s management. My internship as a legal assistant at SP&P Law Firm provided valuable experiences such as legal research and analytical skills, case preparation, client communication skills, and administrative tasks solidifying my interest in the legal field.

My university journey has been enriched by various highlights that honed my leadership and professional skills. I was elected as a sophomore representative in the SGA 8th Mandate where I have acquired and improved my leadership, problem-solving skills and learned the value of team-work. As a Vice President of the SGA 9th Mandate I implement what I have gathered throughout my time as a representative to enrich the work environment and build a strong team where we advocate for the students on campus.

Beyond governance, I broadened my expertise as a student employee at AUPP’s Student Affairs department. This role honed my communication and organizational skills as I assisted students and managed paperwork efficiently. As a student employee at

AUPP, I learnt the structure and work-flow of an international firm where I have gained a significant amount of knowledge on management skills. Furthermore, I ignited my entrepreneurial spirit by participating in the Smart Startup business competition, sharpening my creativity and teamwork abilities.

My leadership experience extends to leading the AUPP music and volleyball club, where I effectively delegated tasks and fostered a collaborative environment within the clubs. In addition, my athletic achievements involve football and volleyball. My university years have been packed with sporting achievements. In 2022, I secured a bronze medal in the AUPP League for football. My winning streak continued in 2023 with a silver medal in volleyball. And in 2024, I claimed the volleyball gold medal at the AUPP 11th Anniversary Sports Tournament.

To solidify my interest in the legal field, I completed an internship as a legal assistant at SP&P Law Firm. This experience provided valuable exposure to legal research, analytical thinking, and client communication, cementing my desire to pursue a career in law.

One of the turning points in my life was reading the Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese philosophy book. The book’s emphasis on living in harmony and giving back resonated deeply with me, particularly during a time when I was struggling with stress and a lack of direction. The concept of ‘wu wei,’ acting effortlessly in accordance with the natural order, inspired me to find a sense of purpose via giving back.

Leveraging this newfound perspective, I used my position as the Head of the Health and Safety Committee of the Student Government Association to initiate community service projects. I spearheaded the idea of contributing back to society and faced the initial challenge of securing buy-in from the committee. Through clear communication and highlighting the positive impact, I was able to rally the team behind the initiatives.

The 9th Mandate successfully organized three impactful community service projects. In Fall 2023, we led a trip to plant mangrove trees at Kampot Province, contributing to environmental conservation. Building on this momentum, we hosted a fundraising campaign on campus in Spring 2024, raising $1,700 for children in need at Jayavarman VII Hospital in Siem Reap. Most recently, we collaborated with Global Peace Alliance – Cambodia (1 Book 1 Love) to raise funds and educational items for children at a Kampong Thum orphanage. Witnessing the positive impact on these communities was incredibly rewarding.

These experiences not only allowed me to give back, but also honed my leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. I learned to effectively delegate tasks, navigate challenges, and work collaboratively towards a common goal.

My father is a constant source of inspiration. He embodies the values of hard work and dedication, qualities I’ve witnessed firsthand throughout his life. Whether it’s his tireless work ethic or his unwavering commitment to his goals, he’s shown me the importance of putting in the effort and never giving up. By observing and adopting his work ethic, I’ve come to understand the power of consistency. There are days when motivation wanes, but his dedication inspires me to push through and keep working hard, even when it feels like a struggle.

However, what truly inspires me most is his kind heart. He consistently demonstrates compassion and generosity towards everyone around him. Witnessing this firsthand has redefined my understanding of success. It goes beyond material achievements; it’s about using your talents and resources to make a positive impact on the world. Furthermore, his humility has instilled in me the importance of modesty. He doesn’t boast about his accomplishments, but rather lets his actions speak for themselves. This has taught me the value of staying low and appreciating the journey, not just the destination. His approach has opened doors for him, allowing him to connect with amazing people and seize unexpected opportunities.

    The virtues of hard work, modesty, and lifelong learning are my guiding principles to get to where I am currently. I firmly believe that a strong work ethic is the cornerstone of achievement. Putting in the effort, showing commitment, and dedicating yourself to your goals paves the way for success. However, true success goes beyond just achieving those goals. Modesty is just as important as hard work. There will be times when you’ll want to shout your accomplishments from the rooftops. However, I believe that letting your work speak for itself holds greater power. Maintaining a humble attitude makes you more approachable, dependable, and trustworthy. This, in turn, fosters stronger relationships and opens doors to new opportunities you might otherwise miss.

    Lifelong learning is the fuel that keeps the fire of achievement burning. The world is constantly evolving, and the knowledge you have today might not be enough tomorrow. By keeping an open mind and a willingness to learn, you embrace growth. Never wait until you are “fully ready” because the moment will never come. Embrace the journey of learning and adapt along the way. Be receptive to criticism, for it often holds valuable lessons. Learn from the experiences and insights of those around you. I often refer to the quote “you have two ears and one mouth, listen more than you speak.” By actively observing and listening to what occurs around you, you will gain a better understanding of your surroundings, making you a socially intelligent specimen.

    Serving as Vice President of the Student Government Association (SGA) during the 9th mandate was a defining experience in my academic journey. Holding a position in the SGA was always a goal for my university life, so being elected Vice President was a true honor. Contributing to the well-being of the AUPP student body alongside a fantastic team brought me immense satisfaction.

    Working with the Executive Team and Representatives throughout the mandate was a privilege. We not only addressed and solved student concerns, but also organized

    major events to create a vibrant and engaging campus environment. It was a joy to collaborate with such dedicated individuals – talented, creative, and passionate about making a positive impact, just like me. Organizing events at AUPP such as charity trips, Water Festival event, and Sangkran event have been one of the largest and few highlights of the mandate. It gives great pleasure to organize events where I learn to pay attention to the minor details, to find sponsors, expand my network, and sharpen my leadership skills.

    The SGA 9th will forever hold a special place in my heart. It wasn’t just about serving the student body; it was a catalyst for significant personal and professional growth. This experience has undoubtedly made me a better student and a more well-rounded individual.

    I’m a firm believer in fostering unshakable self-confidence in yourself. We need to develop an inner strength to approach life’s setbacks with an open heart and mind. When presented with challenges, we may perceive them as opportunities for growth, not roadblocks. Equipped with an optimistic approach and great confidence, it will empower us to bounce back stronger and keep reaching for our goals. I’m a strong advocate for seizing opportunities when they arise. While doubts and hesitations are natural to occur, I believe we should embrace these moments despite them. The truth is, you’ll rarely feel “fully ready” for a new challenge. Growth often happens outside our comfort zones. The key is to be adaptable and open to learning. Opportunities often require us to adjust our approach and acquire new skills. Embrace this flexibility; it’s a chance to expand your skillset and become a more well-rounded individual. Approach every opportunity with an open heart and a willingness to learn, and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve. Lastly, I also strongly believe in maintaining a rational approach when working, especially on challenging days. Emotions can cloud judgment, so staying calm allows for careful consideration and clear communication. When you express yourself rationally, you become a reliable source of information and deliver well-thought-out plans that lead to successful outcomes.

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