Dedicated student wins scholarship to pursue her degree
"We can buy essentials with money but we cannot buy knowledge with money, says Ms Thidthida Phokhasili, 20, the recipient of a scholarship from the Lao Brewery Co., Ltd.
Ms Thidthida, or Poung, as she is known to her friends and family, was born into a poor family in Samakhixay district, Attapeu province, and subsequently led a deprived childhood.
We can buy basic necessities with money but we cannot buy knowledge with money, says Ms Thidthida Phokhasili, the recipient of a scholarship from the Lao Brewery Co., Ltd.
Now she is one of 150 students at the National University of Laos (NUOL) who have received financial support from the Lao Brewery Co., Ltd., after excelling in her studies.
The brewery recently provided 150 scholarships worth 440 million kip to students at NUOL and the National Institute of Fine Arts. The brewery's policy is to provide scholarships to students who have a strong academic record and come from a poor family background, meaning they would otherwise struggle to pursue higher education.
The company's scholarships boost human resource development in Laos and target disadvantaged students who lack education opportunities. The scholarships serve a special purpose by helping students to complete their studies so they can become greater contributors to society.
Ms Poung graduated from Chantha Secondary School in Attapeu province in 2013 and then had no choice but to end her schooling for a year as her family had no money to pay for further studies.
Instead, she worked for a year to make money to help her family in the hope that one day she could continue her studies.
In 2014, she finally got the chance to enrol at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the National University of Laos and is now in the third year of a physics degree.
Ms Poung said she was inspired to continue her studies because of her background. She firmly believes that knowledge is the key to help her family escape from poverty.
My method of learning is reading, summarising the main points of my classes, and spending my free time in the library, she says.
My activities at university also include playing sports, reading books for pleasure and sometimes singing songs with my friends.
I have classes from 8 to 11am from Monday to Friday and from 1 to 8pm I study English. Besides that, I review my previous lessons and skip ahead to the next lesson as well.
In the classroom, I always sit at the front and listen carefully as the teachers explain the topic. If I don't understand, I ask the teacher to clarify a point.
My dream is to become a scientist, have a good job and be able to care for my family, Ms Poung said.
To us she is like a celebrity because of how intelligent and determined she is, comments her classmate, Ms Phengphan Keobounthan.
If her friends don't understand the lesson, she helps to explain it to them, Ms Phengphan added.
Ms Poung's mother, Ms Khamkhem Phokhasili, also spoke to Vientiane Times about her daughter.
I've seen my daughter concentrating on her studies since she was a child and she was always an outstanding student at primary and secondary school.
At secondary school, Poung received many congratulatory certificates for her outstanding test results.
But our family is unable to pay for her university tuition fees because we are simple farmers with little income. Only her brother and sister can support her studies, her mother added.
Thanks to the Lao Brewery Co., Ltd., Ms Poung and the other privileged recipients of the scholarships needn't worry about how they will pay their way through university any more. Now she finally has the right that every university student should have - to focus on her studies without worrying about how to pay her fees.
By Phomphong Laoin
(Latest Update November 19, 2016)