Profile of a CCISD Graduate, Part 3

Profile of a CCISD Graduate, Part 3
Posted on 05/24/2019
Graduate Profile

By: Sydney Hunt, Senior Communications Specialist

Chanmarie Un’s motto in life is to walk with purpose.

She is a first-generation American who has struggled throughout the years with also defining her identity within her Cambodian culture.

“My parents were refugees who immigrated to America while fleeing the Cambodian genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge,” Chanmarie said. “I have grown up trying to find the balance of wanting to be culturally connected to my heritage and also being accepted as an American.”

The Cambodian community in Houston is small, so Chanmarie began searching for different ways she could connect to those in similar situations and find her own purpose at Clear Brook High School.

“Going to school here, I never had any student who I could relate to in terms of my Cambodian background,” Chanmarie said. “But I did relate to the other students who were ethnically and culturally different. We all collectively agree it is sometimes hard to stay in touch with your roots and your parents' roots. I think you can be your best self in both cultures without them clashing.”

Watching how hard her parents worked to run a successful business as she grew up while also staying committed to their values changed the pathway of her life at a really young age.

“That’s honestly where my whole drive comes from, is my parents,” said Chanmarie. “Not necessarily them actively teaching me anything but just the life that they live and the effort I have seen them put into their donut shop. I learned to be independent and learned to seek my dreams out as they occur to me. That really translated into my academic life, as I always have pushed myself.”

Successful would be an understatement if you were to look over her impressive resumé listing out her academic honors and achievements throughout her high school career. Among the accomplishments she is most proud of is her time spent as part of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics team at school, which is made possible through a partnership with Clear Creek ISD and NASA Johnson Space Center.

“The NASA site has really become my home for the past four years,” Chanmarie said. “I have done a lot of engineering work and have learned a lot about professionalism at such a young age. Being able to be part of a district that provides us with these opportunities that others might not get is incredible.”

If she wasn’t competing in her own robotics competitions, she spent the remainder of her free time after school mentoring elementary students in robotics at Brookwood Elementary and Gilmore Elementary. She stated she wanted to give students the opportunity she didn’t have growing up by becoming involved in the robotics program through CCISD early in elementary school.

“When I see these kids who are like me, living out this path that I didn’t get to be a part of at their age, it makes me feel appreciative that I am giving back,” Chanmarie said. “Not only that, I love watching them absorb the information I teach them. They are enthusiastic to learn and have fun.”

She also learned that impactful people sometimes come around at just the right time in your life, such as her AP Spanish teacher, Judith Abuhamra, who has helped her over past year with fostering her dreams.

“She is the number one teacher to teach passion,” Chanmarie said. “The things that she teaches before Spanish are love, compassion and positivity. She taught me that if I do what I love, I am going to achieve what I want.”

Chanmarie believes that all students should follow Señora Judith’s advice in life.

“Students these days are trying to be and do everything, and they just end up overloading themselves with stress,” Chanmarie said. “I think if students walk with purpose and figure out what they are passionate about, they don’t have to worry about the rest. Because it all will work itself out if you let passion drive your success.”

After fostering her own passion throughout high school, Chanmarie is taking her own advice and following a different track after graduation that some might not have expected.

“All of my high school career I was successful in robotics, but in all honestly, I don’t think engineering is for me,” Chanmarie said. “I respect the craft and I love it, but I don’t think it’s a good fit in terms of my future career. And that is perfectly fine.”

Instead, she will be attending Stanford University in the fall and going in as an undeclared major.

“The number one thing Stanford cares about is letting their students grow, and they think growth comes with intellectual freedom,” Chanmarie said. “So, students go in with an undeclared pathway as they discover their different curiosities.”

Among her list of interests, however, includes exploring the world of cognitive sciences through a symbolic systems degree. This would allow her to get the best of both worlds - humanities and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. She is also wanting to minor in multiple languages so she can add to her list of being fluent in English, Spanish and Khmer (Cambodian).

“Just like I have learned that I shouldn’t discount myself because I am two things culturally, I have also learned that you shouldn’t have to discount one interest for another,” Chanmarie said. “I am excited to see where my passions take me in the future.” 
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