Remarks by Ambassador William A. Heidt at FUSAAC Major and Career Fair

Institute of Technology of Cambodia
June 25, 2017
(as prepared for delivery)

Your Excellency Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport;

Mr. You Sokpanha, President of the Fulbright and Undergraduate State Alumni Association of Cambodia and other members of FUSAAC;

Distinguished guests, students, parents, and volunteers.

Good morning everyone and welcome to the 8th annual Major and Career Fair!  It is incredible to see so many students here this morning, interested in learning more about all the majors and careers out there.

I would like to say a special thank-you to Mr. You Sokpanha, FUSAAC’s president, and the 100 FUSAAC volunteers who made this event possible today.  And of course we all know Minister Naron’s far-reaching efforts to strengthen Cambodia’s education system, modernize the curriculum, especially in the area of STEM education.

I know it takes an incredible amount of organization to put such an event together, and I’m amazed that all 2,400 tickets were sold in just ten days.  This speaks to the solid reputation that the Major and Career Fair has built for itself over the years.

In addition, this event would not have been possible without the 70 speakers who took time out of their busy schedules to share their experiences with us today.  I would also like to thank the Institute of Technology of Cambodia for hosting this amazing event.

This year’s Major and Career Fair theme is “E-Learning: Using the Internet to Build Marketable Skills.”  Picking a major and a career is certainly different today than when I was growing up.

Picking what to study is one of the most important academic choices you will make.  But it is also one of the most important life choices that you will make.  There so many majors and careers out there to choose from that it can be confusing.

Many students I have talked to in Cambodia tell me they picked their major, perhaps business or accounting, because their friend was studying that major.  But as much as you might like your friend, people are different and have different interests.

This Fair is meant to help you keep an open mind and find the major and career right for you.  Doing your research is the first step.  There are so many resources available to you with just the click of a mouse and without even leaving your house.

For example, you can watch videos, like those produced by FUSAAC, that profile the work of various professionals from software programmers to graphic designers.  These videos can help you to understand the day-to-day work of many different professionals.  There are also many other resources available online to build marketable skills like coding or foreign languages.

I’d like to tell you the brief story of someone in our audience today – Mr. Soeng Reth, who some of you might know.  He is a successful economics professor teaching at the American University of Phnom Penh.  He recently returned from a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence program teaching economics courses in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Reth changed his major three times – from math, to finance, to economics.  By doing his research about the job market, he made an informed decision to study economics. This is where E-Learning can make a huge difference to help us pick the right major for your passion and interests.

If you decide you are unhappy or picked the wrong major, you can always switch, just like Reth.  Nothing is set in stone – don’t be afraid to try out something different in order to find what you are looking for.  What’s most important is to follow your dreams.

While E-learning is great, talking to real, live people is too!  D   on’t forget about the value of just talking to professionals face-to-face.  This Fair will give you that chance.  Through the panel discussions, quizzes, and exhibition booths, this year’s Major and Career Fair will provide you the resources you need to allow you to make smart decisions about your future.

Let me congratulate FUSAAC again for organizing this fair.  Thank you all for coming today and for taking this step to invest in your future.

Good luck everyone and thank you very much.