Having suffered through some of the brutal conflicts in Cambodia, Punya Droz of Mendocino has many scars. Yet she works tirelessly to bring a sense of independence to Cambodian youth, especially the blind and deaf.
Growing up in Cambodia, Droz survived a difficult and abusive childhood, and overcame numerous obstacles to reach her goal of completing college.
She joined hundreds of fellow seniors on SSU's main campus last week as a graduate with distinction from the Liberal Studies Ukiah B.A. program. She'll continue her education at Dominican University in pursuit of a teaching credential starting fall of 2012.
A mother herself, Droz currently designs, translates and writes educational materials to ensure that blind and deaf children in Cambodia get the help they need to not only get an education, but to operate independently in their communities.
She works with numerous groups in both the San Francisco Bay Area and in Cambodia in an effort to generate educational materials, guides, and resources for parents and teachers of students with special needs.
Droz recently completed a Special Studies project, for which she traveled to Cambodia. to continue her work with blind and deaf Cambodian children and their parents.
She created a compelling video showcasing her efforts in the Cambodian communities where her work is making a difference in many people's lives.
Sandra Feldman, Liberal Studies Ukiah program coordinator says she rarely sees such an accomplished and distinguished student who contributes tirelessly to help others.
"Punya stands out because she is selfless in contributing effort, time, and scholarship to help those in need, " says Feldman. " She works steadily with a quiet power giving a helping hand, using her gifts to contribute to making the world a better place. In her quest to better prepare and enable teachers and parents to work with blind and deaf Cambodian children, she is the ideal example for our future teachers of California. "