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UC Riverside Names Parent of the Year

UC Riverside Names Parent of the Year

Vanthy Ly risked her life to educate children during the violent Khmer Rouge regime.

(May 21, 2005)

Vanthy Ly (center) with daughter Sereyvan Chea and Chancellor France Córdova (Photo by Micheal Elderman)Enlarge

Vanthy Ly (center) with daughter Sereyvan Chea and Chancellor France Córdova (Photo by Micheal Elderman)

When UCR’s Parents Association asked students to nominate Parent of the Year candidates who provided “opportunities for children by serving as a role model in some manner or making personal sacrifices,” UCR senior Sereyvan Chea knew who they were talking about.

Her mother, Vanthy Ly, was the perfect candidate for Parent of the Year, said Chea, in her nomination letter, because Ly risked her life when she violated the violent Khmer Rouge regime orders that prohibited education, and secretly taught homeless and orphaned children to read and write in English and Cambodian.

Later, after moving her family to the United States, she worked up to 20 hours a day as a seamstress to help pay for clothing and school supplies for her children and to benefit poor children in her community.

“My mother possesses three valuable characteristics: courage, dedication and kindness,” wrote Chea, a UCR senior majoring in business administration. “These traits enabled her to touch many children’s hearts and minds.
Ly, a UCR parent from Long Beach, was chosen by the UCR Parents Association from among two-dozen applicants to be the 2005 Parent of the Year. This is the 16th year that the association has given the award.

She was honored during the Alumni Association’s annual meeting held Friday evening, May 20. The evening included a celebration in honor of the 50th year anniversary of the Alumni Association. Founded in 1955 with the 20 students who represented UCR’s first graduating class, the association now serves as an advocate for alumni, assists in student recruitment and has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships.

More than 200 people attended last night’s event, including many past and current board members and presidents, as well as members of the Citizens University Committee (CUC), which formed in 1948 to lobby the state legislature to locate a UC campus in Riverside. It is UCR’s oldest continuous support group.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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