Hork Do remembers the moment his interest in studying American Ethnic Studies was officially sparked. During a trip to the UW to shadow his older cousin who was a student at the university, he decided to sit in on a large lecture course taught by Dr. Connie So. At the time, Hork was a high school senior at Kent Meridian High School and was trying to figure out where to apply for college. So’s class that day was the catalyst for his future education as an AES student.
“I remember thinking,” Hork recalls, “this is nothing like what I’m learning in high school right now. I’d learned this mainstream history my whole education and then I had it turned upside down by Connie. It challenged me and changed my perspective. I didn't accept the norm anymore, and I knew I was gonna question things.” And he did. Hork graduated from UW in 2013, majoring in American Ethnic Studies with a minor in Education. He stayed close to the campus community and started his coursework as a doctoral student in Physical Therapy at UW in 2017.
Hork, who was raised in Seattle by a single mother from Cambodia, approached classes with a focus on community and mentorship. He knew that he was interested in education, but his courses in American Ethnic Studies also set him up to think about how he could use his interest in education along with his knowledge of sports. Hork was continually pushed and supported by his mentor, Professor Rick Bonus, and was a regular fixture in his education classes. Bonus was particularly helpful in supporting Hork with his activities in leadership for the Khmer Student Association (KhSA). Whether it involved contacting community leaders or participating in fundraising efforts with welcome support from Bonus, Hork’s focus on the KhSA was his way of giving back to the UW community
“I called it my baby, and I still have a strong connection with current members of KhSA. My sophomore year I was activities coordinator and senior year I was president and then the year after that I was an alumni advisor. Every president has their focus and their vision—for me, it was establishing community with other student community groups—so we really got involved with other student groups, too.” As a doctoral student, Hork is still involved with KhSA. “I still attend events, like the new year’s show every year. I’m pretty proud of them and how much they’ve grown.”
When Hork was working as an educational assistant after graduating from UW, it was Dr. Bonus that encouraged him to revisit his interest in the physical therapy program at the UW. His ultimate dream is to work in sports physical therapy, more specifically pediatric sports physical therapy. “At the end of my career,” he concluded, “I still want to teach. I want to be an educator, whether it be high school sports medicine or pediatric sports therapy. Above all, I like the idea of being a mentor.”