Cathleen Phimorong Kim was born in a refugee camp in the Philippines. Her parents are survivor of the Cambodian genocide. She and her parents immigrated to Houston, Texas where instead of settling happily in a new country they had to endure more struggles. At two months old Cathleen was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer called Retinoblastoma. Her parents faced a lot of obstacles in order to get all the treatments she needed. Due to the severity of the cancer, Cathleen lost her right vision, but was very fortunate the doctor was able to save her left vision with additional treatments. At the age of seven, Cathleen and her parents moved to Southern California.
Throughout her high school and college years she always found the time to be involved with activities related to education and the Cambodian community. She worked and volunteered for Seamless Education in a variety of capacities in Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach City College and California State University, Long Beach. Growing up in the United States, Cathleen continued the Cambodian culture and tradition by learning Khmer literacy and Cambodian Royal Court Ballet. She did numerous performances on stage throughout the Long Beach community.
In 2003, Cathleen founded the dance group Spirit of Khmer Angkor. As the founder and one of the instructors she was able to pass along to the next generation of Cambodian youth & teens one of the Cambodian art form. Cathleen later on join the Los Angeles Racing Dragons (Dragon Boat) team where she paddle in different competitions in California, Arizona, Florida, Washington, Portland and Canada. Being a cancer survivor, Cathleen joined the College Against Cancer Club when she was in graduate school. With the support of the club and the American Cancer Society, she was selected to be a key note speaker at one of the Relay for Life event. Afterwards she served two years as an Ambassador for the American Cancer Society.
Aside from her volunteerism and extra curriculum activities’ succeeding in education is very important in her family. Cathleen received her Associate Arts Degree in Liberal Arts from Long Beach City College, Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach and a Master of Science Degree in School Counseling K-12 education with a Pupil Personnel Service Credential from California State University, Long Beach. She is currently working at the Braille Institute of America, Anaheim Center as a Youth Programs Manager. Not only does she work with youth, teens, but with young adults and adults who are visually impaired and blind in educating them to build the life skills when one faces with a visual disability.
Today, Cathleen is a two time cancer survivor as she battled another rare cancer (in 2013) called Leiomyoscarma. She did not let the second battle bring her down, but showed to others her strength and will power to beat cancer for the second time. One of her last goal aside from beating cancer for the second time is to expand her education. Cathleen would like to pursue a doctorate degree in education as she is very passionate about the education field.