A Heart Deep in the Field
“I love working in the university environment,” says Sokha Om, an English teacher and staff member in the studies office at Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) in Cambodia. “My heart is deep in this field, and I understand how tertiary institutions play vital roles in shaping the nation’s human resources.” The United Board Faculty Scholarship Program is helping her gain a broader base of academic knowledge and management skills so that she can contribute even more to educational development and innovation at RUPP.
In 2012, Ms. Om began PhD studies in educational leadership and management at De La Salle University in the Philippines, with support from the United Board. She knew she had the passion to make positive change at her university, but she realized she also needed new tools to translate that passion into action. “Leading and managing an institution requires formal learning, training, and practice, as in any other subject area,” she reflected. “For instance, school administrators must understand the theories and concepts regarding leadership and management to better inform their decision-making and daily institutional operations. They also need to have technical skills such as strategic planning, human resource management, curriculum development, and research program management.”
De La Salle University has hosted United Board Faculty Scholars since 2003, in fields as diverse as applied linguistics and ecosystem management. Faculty scholars are introduced to a new culture and new styles of teaching and learning, as well as the substantive content of their area of specialization. “It is a long and challenging journey for me to take my PhD at De La Salle University,” Ms. Om says, but one she feels is extremely worthwhile as she builds her career around service to her students and colleagues in education. “I have the goal to create a program of educational leadership and management in my home country. I believe it is the best way to train ethical, competent, and effective educational leaders.”
(First published in Horizons in June 2015)