Sokkun Luc and Sokha Pex, two Cambodian cousins whose families fled the lethal Khmer Rouge regime in 1975, were awarded CUNY’s Peter Jennings G.E.D. Laurel Award Scholarship last month for their diligence and persistence in learning English and earning their high school equivalency diplomas.
The two cousins, now studying at Kingsborough and pursuing associate degrees, were so anxious for an education after arriving in New York that they asked a teacher at Brooklyn College to e-mail them math problems to solve in their spare time.
Although their families fled Phnom Penh in 1975, they spent years apart. Ms. Pex fled to Vietnam where she lived as a refugee for three years, losing her mother and brother along the way.
Ms. Luc’s family fled to France where she lived for 12 years before winning asylum to America.
The two cousins met at Classic Nails, a salon in Brooklyn where they both worked. The salon was owned by their relative and counted Nicole Dove, CUNY Office Assistant in KCC Budget Office, as a customer. Ms. Dove recalled that the two cousins were very curious and always had books.
The scholarship, named posthumously after Peter Jennings, ABC News anchor, and a college drop-out, pays $1,000 toward tuition at any CUNY college. Mr. Jennings presided over the yearly awards ceremony until his untimely death in 2005.
Contact: Ruby Ryles