June 21, 2024

JSI Scholar: Sochea Chhay

  • Pronouns: She/Her
  • Hometown: Cambodia
  • College/University: Beloit College 
  • Major: Quantitative Economics
  • Track: Residential

Tell us about your story

My name is Sochea Chhay, I am a junior majoring in Quantitative Economics and minoring in Mathematics. I’m originated from Siem Reap, Cambodia. I am the first daughter in my family to pursue higher education in the U.S. Reflecting on my community and upbringing, I recognize the barriers that underserved populations, especially women and minority ethnic groups, face in accessing economic opportunities. This inspires me to empower women from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain equal access to opportunities, resources, and decision-making.

What path did you take when you first started college?

When I first started college, I took a lot of random classes in political sciences and economics. I found out that I really enjoy the topics discuss in economics I took which led me to choose quantitative economics as a major.

What made you consider a career in public policy/public service/international affairs?

The reason that made me consider a career in public policy because when I was young, I witnessed of my mom being exploited as a factory worker. she received lower pay compared to male coworkers. To this day my mom has to work overtime almost every day without extra pay. This propel me to advocate for equitable economic policies for underprivileged populations to ensure that they have equal access to economic opportunities and resources for improving their social well-being. This passion has inspired me to create policies to address the inherent wealth gap, systematic inequality in employment, and economic exclusion. I want to ensure that everyone, regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation, has the same opportunities and economic resources, which is essential for inclusive economic growth in the long run.

Who inspires you to think about public service?

My mom is the person who inspires me public services, as my childhood experience witnessing the exploitation that my mom faced has inspired me to develop an equitable economic policy for all Cambodian people regardless of their gender, race, and religion.

What are you most excited about the JSI program at UW?

I am excited to exploring Seattle and meeting with other JSI fellows and faculties.