Alumni Spotlight

Every month, the Khmer Alumni Associate recognizes one successful and outstanding Cambodian-American alumnus who has made an impact in their community. This individual is featured on our Instagram account, @KhmerAlumni, and on our Facebook fan page, Khmer Alumni Association.

Saly Heng
Urban & Regional Planning
UCLA 2016
Berg & Associates, Inc. | LAWA
Transportation Specialist
Civil Engineering / Transportation Planning / Aviation

What was your upbringing like (i.e. Did you grow up with other Cambodians? Being the only Cambodian?) How did this help shape your identity and interests?
“I grew up just outside Long Beach in a predominately Latino community. Being the only a couple Asian Americans around, I never understood what being Cambodian American meant until end of the high school and college. It led me finding my identity in college and understanding my history and how I can mold my own role in society.” 

What motto do you live by? How did you develop this motto and how has it helped you achieve success (or get through life)?
No matter the task, always lend a hand if you are able and available. No job is ‘beneath’ you. I try my best to be useful to others in any situation. It’s led to great conversations and connections.

What would you say to someone looking to follow your career path?
“Looking back from 10 years ago to now, I never planned to be where I am today, and nor do I think my plans for 10 years from now will be the same. I’ve learned being a first/second generation Khmer-American millennial means navigating the professional world on your own, and many folks do not understand the struggle, or worse, do not acknowledge the struggle. I hope to change that.”

Are you currently a KAA Mentor?