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Refugee group founder wins top grad school scholarship


August 19, 2006

A recent ASU graduate who spent part of her childhood in a Cambodian refugee camp has won one of the most generous academic awards offered in the United States.

Sambo Dul lived for four years in a makeshift camp on the Thai-Cambodian border, making the 8,000-mile journey to Arizona with her mother and three siblings when she was 5 years old. Her father and two siblings had died.

Now, 18 years later, she has won a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship that will pay for her entire graduate education – in her case, law school at New York University. The scholarships are awarded based on high achievement and financial need, providing up to $50,000 annually for tuition, room, board, fees and books, for up to six years.

After attending Corona Del Sol High School, Dul won full scholarships to ASU but continued to work part time to help support her family. She began working with Amnesty International and soon founded an organization at ASU called Community Outreach & Advocacy for Refugees. She trained students to work with newly settled refugee families, serving as friends and mentors.

The organization since has served more than 600 refugees. It has more than 70 volunteers and a 14-member board of directors, and it also is preparing to expand to other campuses nationwide. The group has even developed a semester-long college preparation program for refugee youth.

Dul graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Barrett Honors College in May 2005, with degrees in political science, economics and Spanish. In addition to the ASU President's Scholarship, she won the Dorrance Merit Scholarship from the Arizona Community Foundation and the Student Entrepreneur Initiative Award from the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative at ASU.