May 15, 2005
St. Paul, Minn. — Vannak Tep grew up in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. She came to the U.S. in 1998, when she was 20. Her family encouraged her to come to make a better life. She has a sister who lives in the Twin Cities, but the rest of her family remains in Cambodia.
Tep spoke little English when she arrived, but now she's working as a loan officer in a financial services company. She's also in school studying accounting.
Vannak Tep became a U.S. citizen four years ago.
"I like America, because there's a lot of opportunity here and people follow the laws," she says. "When you need help, people always help you. I like studying in school here because the teachers are great. They help you. They understand you're an English second-language speaker."
Tep says she would like to continue her education, to get another degree in business administration or management. She says her dream is to return to Cambodia to start her own business, "or do other things that can help my people over there."