When I joined Theta Tau, I was a sophomore within Materials Science & Engineering. What attracted me most to the organization was that all of the individual members had a coherent story to tell; everyone had a defined goal and were making the most of their time at Cornell to bring it to fruition. As a very lost undergraduate, I desired to have that same direction in my own life. Through the New Member Education program, the most valuable lesson I learned was how to look for the best resources. I gained insight on how to reach out to recruiters & professors, how to make the most of my curriculum, and how to be a leader in my field of interest. Moreover, my Brothers gave me the confidence to pursue anything that I set my career upon no matter how intangible it may seem to my major.
This became invaluable when I decided to pursue a Master’s of Public Administration here at Cornell. I was fortunate enough to secure a full time job in October of my senior year, but I remember feeling doubts on working for a corporation. Throughout my 4 years in undergrad I also pursued a minor in International Relations. From this minor, I was exposed to how development in underprivileged nations is not as rosy as the West wants us to think; it is still rife with inequality, extreme property, and exploitation. As a proud Cambodian American, I thought about how my own country of origin was doing in this age of globalization. It broke my heart when I started becoming more involved in Cambodian politics and realized it still suffers from authoritarianism, extreme deforestation, human trafficking, worker exploitation in sweatshops, and other vices that come with development.
In April of my senior year, I made the bold decision that I would work to change the development paradigm in Cambodia and overall Southeast Asia. I was applying to a Master’s program within the last 3 weeks of school left. I was scared to say the least. Not only was I unsure if I could create a compelling application in only 3 weeks, but also on if I could afford the program. Regardless, my Brothers gave me support and advice during the entire process. No one ever told me my goals were too hard to achieve. They pushed me to reach out to professors in the program, read and revised my statement of purpose probably over 50 times, and gave me words of encouragement every day.
Fast forward to Slope Day (yes, Slope Day), I received an email in my inbox. I was accepted to Cornell’s Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA) on a full scholarship.
Without my support network in Theta Tau, I would have never had the confidence to apply to CIPA or had the appropriate materials to qualify for a full scholarship. The Brothers helped me when I was an engineer and helped me still when I desired to work in the field of government & policy. Today, I absolutely love my program and the network I am building outside of engineering. I can never thank the Brotherhood enough for getting me to where I am today.