The ‘child of the dump’ from ‘Girl Rising’ is now a college grad

When it opened in March 2013, the Intel-backed film “Girl Rising” helped kickstart a global movement around a mission to ensure that girls around the world are educated and empowered.

What you might not remember is, as part of that effort, Intel invested further by partnering with local non-governmental agencies (NGOs) to ensure each of the nine girls in the film — and many of their siblings — continued to receive quality education.

In honor of International Day of the Girl, we caught up with one of the nine girls featured in the film. So where are they now?

Vulnerable past to college grad

In the opening scene of the film, Sokha Chen was introduced as a “child of the dump” from Cambodia. Being an orphan meant she was forced to sort through garbage in order to survive.

Sokha Chen holding her Kendall College degree
Sokha Chen recently graduated from Kendall College in Chicago, Illinois.

Chen only began attending school when she was 13, but now she is graduating from Kendall College in Chicago after just three and a half years with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. She recently completed an internship with Hyatt Place Hotel in Chicago and was offered a full-time job upon graduation, though she has chosen to decline the offer because she wants to go back to Cambodia.

Chen says her degree is applicable no matter where she chooses to live and right now, she wants to take her expertise back home.

With one dream behind her, Chen’s next big dream is to develop her skills and work her way up the hotel management ladder to become a general manager of a hotel in Cambodia or in the U.S. (where she hopes to return eventually to provide the best possible education for her 6-month-old son).

“I can’t be thankful enough for Intel, Girl Rising, my sponsor, and school…I have not had to worry about paying off anything,” Chen says. “All I have to focus on is going to school.”

How Intel is supporting girls

While Intel’s involvement in Girl Rising is concluding, Intel’s commitment to girls and women endures.

The Intel She Will Connect initiative, which is aimed at inspiring middle school girls to pursue STEAM career paths and solve social challenges with technology and leadership skills, is planning a whole slew of events going forward, all of which focus on empowering girls and women in the community.

TECHNOchicas Lift event participants at work table
Over 100 middle school girls gathered October 5th for the TECHNOchicas Lift event at Intel’s Santa Clara campus. Photo Credit: Gabriela A. Gonzalez

Intel also recently hosted a TECHNOLOchicas Lift Summit, where Intel partnered with The Televisa Foundation, League of United Latin American Citizens, and the Eva Longoria Foundation to promote and inspire underrepresented girls to consider careers in STEM.

Pia Wilson-Body, President of the Intel Foundation, says that “The Intel Foundation has long supported women and girls through education and technology. We are very proud of the young women of Girl Rising and all the challenges they’ve overcome to achieve their education. I am encouraged by each of their journeys. These young women and girls are the future!”

And the other eight girls featured in “Girl Rising?” Most of them are continuing their education — read their progress on the Girl Rising website.

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