Trinity College grounds on a beautiful sunny day

Trinity student goes from garbage dump to graduation, the inspiring story of Sophy Ron

By Emily McAuliffe

As a child, Sophy Ron worked seven days a week from dusk until dawn as a ‘rubbish picker’, collecting garbage at the Stung Meanchey waste dump in Phnom Penh to help support her family. She was one of hundreds of children rummaging through toxic garbage each day to find items to recycle for money and scavenging for food to eat. Her eight family members lived in a small hut, constantly facing eviction given they couldn’t afford the rent. Her circumstances meant Sophy didn’t get the chance to attend school until she was 11. 

‘I didn’t know what English was,’ says Sophy, now fluent in English. 

Fast forward a decade and she’s about to commence a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne. 

Sophy’s stroke of luck came when she was assisted by the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) and was then offered the first full scholarship funded by Trinity College through the CCF. The scholarship allowed her to move to Melbourne and participate in Trinity’s Foundation Studies program, which prepares international students to study at the University of Melbourne. 

Sophy graduated from Foundation Studies at Trinity in May and is now looking forward to starting university in July, while living on campus at Trinity as part of the Trinity College scholarship.   

‘Trinity brought me here under a scholarship and made me the person I am today’, said Sophy in her valedictory speech. ‘If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to speak English, live in the real world, experience real things, make friends and be confident. I would be back in my country, either getting married or dying of disease.’ 

After completing her Bachelor of Arts, Sophy plans to start her own business and wants to contribute back to the Cambodian Children’s Fund to help others through volunteering and donating.

The CCF and Trinity College are committed to providing two scholarships to disadvantaged Cambodian students per year. Two new scholarship recipients are currently enrolled in Trinity’s Foundation Studies program.  

Sophy’s incredible story has been picked up in media around the world, including the ABC.

Trinity College aims to be one of the largest scholarship providers of all Australian higher education institutions and plans to offer up to $8 million in scholarships per year by 2023.

Browse our list of current scholarships.