Students to Watch: Saly Phom
- January 12, 2018
From the Army base to the books at Harper College, Saly Phom has overcome countless obstacles to get where she is today.
Saly Phom was fifteen when her father had a stroke. In order to help support him in his recovery, she graduated early from high school and shortly after enrolled at a community college in Stockton, California to continue her education. But it was when she learned that her father wasn’t going to be able to work anymore that prompted her decision to join the Army so that she could financially support her family.
Like most major life changes, it was both exciting and challenging, but that's precisely why she fell in love with it. "I have to challenge myself in everything that I do,” Saly said. “Nobody can tell me that I can’t achieve something and the Army was great about supporting that and helping me become the best that I could be.”
While enlisted in the Army, Saly took on many roles including an Aviation Operation Specialist, a Corrections Officer, a Logistics Quartermaster, and finally, a Construction Engineer in Kuwait where she managed the operations and living conditions of soldiers.“When I was in Kuwait and the air conditioner went out, everybody panicked!,” she said, “so it was this experience that inspired me to pursue a career in HVAC.”
"I have to challenge myself in everything that I do. Nobody can tell me that I can't achieve something and the Army was great about supporting that and helping me become the best that I could be."
- Saly Phom
Saly enrolled at Harper College shortly after moving to the area to be with her spouse. On her first day of orientation, she was struck by the friendliness of the faculty and staff and the cleanliness of the campus. She quickly took to the program and excelled not only as a student, but as a military speaker at Open House events where she would speak to prospective students about the HVAC field of study.
“After taking one class in the RAC program I noticed her dedication to her learning,” Jose Vital, HVAC Coordinator at Harper College said. “She is truly an ambassador to the program and represents who we are as a program and how we train our students.”
"She is truly an ambassador to the program and represents who we are as a program and how we train our students."
- Jose Vital, HVAC Coordinator at Harper College
Having recently graduated from the HVAC program, Saly hopes to become a Project Manager in the HVAC field. “My life has been a great journey,” she said, “and I’m so excited to see what it has in store for me next.”
Learn more about our HVAC program here.