My name is Valerie. I am an independent 19-year-old, born and raised in Oakland, CA. Growing up in the slums of Oakland, Cambodians were often labeled as dangerous and inferior to the other Asian Americans, which at a young age, affected my relationship towards the community. My well intended parents promoted education and censored a lot of the negative Cambodian imagery away from me. This isolation continued until my parents divorced.
Since then, I grew up spending a lot of my time at the local Cambodian temple with my grandmother. This awaken my interest in learning more about my culture. This experience has shaped me profoundly–as compared to my other siblings who remains distant from our Khmer heritage.
I do not consider myself a professional model, but have grown to become confident in myself as a young adult and love to be involved in the contemporary world of beauty and fashion.
I believe we are all our own role models. If there is a template for my personal journey, I feel as if I am learning every day in retrospect to the lifestyles of our youth and elders.
Some of the hobbies I enjoy doing is graphic design and drawing. An interesting fact about me is that I self taught myself to read and write in basic Cambodian.
I have not visited Cambodia but I am booked for a flight in the summer of 2015! I am excited to meet my long lost relatives and indulge in the traditional food eateries.
Ten years from now, I envision myself being finished with my studies and starting my career in the business world, to allow my Khmer brothers and sisters to follow into my footsteps of confidence and great perseverance.