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tanding in the middle of a field in the dead of night in Cambodia in 1978,
Rady Mom listened intently as his father whispered instructions that
would hopefully keep him and his family alive as they prepared to navi-
gate a mine field as bullets hailed past overhead and bombs exploded nearby.
"My dad said, `Son, whatever you do, don't let go of the back of Daddy's shirt.'
I bundled it in my fist, then my brother took mine from behind, and my sister
took his, and behind them all was my mother. We were like little ducklings
following my father as we tried to make our way to safety,' " recalled
Mom, now 45.
"The bullets were going past us, but I just imagined there was a dome cover-
ing me. I didn't hear anything, didn't feel scared. Other people were dropping,
killed by the gunfire, but my father made me feel safe, and I trusted him. That
was how we made our way to freedom."
Mom is the newly elected State Representative from Lowell's 18th
District, and is the first Cambodian-American state legislator in the United
States. He is also this year's Distinguished Alumni Award winner, as well
as 2015 Commencement speaker. Mom will receive the award and share his
story with graduates Thursday, May 21, in Lowell Memorial Auditorium.
Mom attended Middlesex in the early 1990s, just as the college was
settling into its new Lowell-campus home at Kearney Square in what
is now the Dr. Carole A. Cowan Center.
"Rady's personal story that brought him to the campus is so inspirational, and
he made the most of his time with us at MCC, immersing himself in the club
experience and engaging in community outreach that people still remember,
25 years later," said Dennis Malvers, Dean of Advancement. "We hope the
story of his journey can provide inspiration to help all our students realize
how much they can overcome if they persevere."
Mom and his family had to flee Cambodia when it fell to Communist
regimes in the 1970s. His father, Chann Mom, had run their village of Pailin
as a town administrator, and it became painfully apparent that when the
new regime took over, not only his father but his entire family was going
to be executed.
"The Communists came to my village looking for my father, and they actually
talked to villagers, asking where he could be found while my father stood
right there. We knew then that we had to flee or die because our entire family,
even extended members, would be wiped out," recalled Mom.
2015 Distinguished Alumni Award
Winner & Commencement Speaker
"Middlesex Community College is a wonderful
family, where truthfully, the unity of friendship
and the caring attitude of every staffer that I
met, their love and respect, was life-changing."
Rady Mom, State Representative
Newly elected State Rep. Rady Mom became the
first Cambodian-American legislator in the United
States in November.
Mom (front row, third from left) was a member of MCC's Cambodian-American Student Association in 1991; with
Lowell artist Yary Livan (left) and President James Mabry (center) at the recent opening of Livan's ceramics exhibit.