June 25, 2009
UC San Diego Physician-Author Turns Nightmare Childhood into Book of Dreams
Survivor of Cambodian “Killing Fields” Speaking Out to Inspire Others
When she was five years old, her family was taken by gunpoint and forced into slave labor in rural Cambodia. At seven, members of the Khmer Rouge decapitated her father. At 16, through sheer willpower, Sopheap Ly, now an associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego, made it to the United States.
To have survived a life such as Dr. Sopheap Ly’s is victory enough but she is using her position as an opportunity to inspire others. In her new book, No Dream Beyond My Reach: One woman’s remarkable journey from Cambodian refugee to American MD, this first-time author shares a story of the brutal takeover by the Khmer Rouge in the early 1970s. The book, available this month, details how Ly lived through this trauma and turned survival into success.
Ly’s father often said he hoped she would work in the medical field. “The drive to realize that dream is what kept me going,” said Ly. “His legacy gave me a strong constitution and the ability to withstand hardship.”
Last year, Ly became an assistant professor of medicine at UCSD and a physician at the VA San Diego Medical Center. She works with war veterans suffering from PTSD. “I’ve loved education all my life,” she said. “This job is very important to me.”
No Dream Beyond My Reach: One woman's remarkable journey fromCambodian refugee to American MD
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