At the University of Maine, Chanrasmey Neang discovered a way to let her history shape her future.
Neang grew up in Sanford, Maine, after her parents emigrated to the United States from Cambodia. Her mother was raised in a Khmer Rouge work camp, where the health conditions were substandard at best, and when she arrived in the United States, it was challenging to adapt to a new lifestyle.
Neang, who graduated in May 2010 with a degree in Biology, wanted to find a way to make healthcare accessible to everyone, so that nobody would have to deal with the transition her mother had to make. Through her coursework, volunteer work and lab experience at UMaine, she found her calling: public health.
“That is the best way to improve the quality of someone’s life,” says Neang, who worked in mycologist Jody Jellison’s lab since the first semester of her freshman year. “I mainly want to help those who don’t have adequate health care get access.”
At UMaine, she dealt with public health in a real way every day — she worked as a resident assistant, a job that entails promoting healthy choices and lifestyles among undergraduate dorm residents. She was also an integral part of UMaine’s “Take Back the Tap” campaign, which educated the campus community about alternatives to bottled water. Today, she works as a microbiologist for a medical device company in Massachusetts and is enrolled in the University of New Hampshire’s graduate program in Public Health.
“Working in Professor Jody Jellison’s lab at UMaine was a wonderful experience and a great stepping stone to the career I have now,” Neang says. “I am able to utilize the experience and knowledge I have gained to succeed.”
Image Description: Neang