Sambo 'Bo' Dul is the 2018 recipient of the Young Alumni Achievement Award

The Alumni Association makes annual selections to recognize community members for their achievements

In a University that has been open since 1886 and has since become the nation’s largest public research university, the ASU alumni population is extensive, diverse and full of talent.

Sambo “Bo” Dul, a 2005 ASU graduate who triple majored in political science, economics and Spanish, fits this description as she was named as the 2018 recipient of the Founders’ Day Young Alumni Achievement Award.

Founders’ Day is the Alumni Association’s signature award celebration, where ASU faculty, philanthropists and alumni are recognized for their embodiment of key university values including growth, innovation and excellence.

The Young Alumni Achievement Award, one of the seven 2018 Founders' Day awards, aims to recognize an alum who has excelled at their profession within 15 years of graduation.

“We are looking for young alums that are successful in their careers and are ambassadors of ASU through their work,” said Alissa Serignese, vice president of the ASU Alumni Association.

Serignese said Dul was the perfect embodiment of what the award aims to recognize. 

“She graduated with three degrees. She continued to stay involved with the University, and she is out there in the community representing ASU and everything ASU stands for,” Serignese said. 

Dul started the Community Outreach and Advocacy for Refugees student organization at ASU, was active in Amnesty International and graduated summa cum laude as a triple major. Dul’s impressive and impactful time at ASU was a precursor to the rest of her career. 

“I always say that the four years I spent at ASU were some of the best years of my life because I got to do so much and learn so much,” Dul said. “It was really where I started to get socially and politically engaged and aware and passionate about the issues that I still work on today.”

After graduation, Dul stayed in Arizona to continue working on refugee resettlement issues and see out the leadership transition of COAR. 

Dul then moved to the East Coast to continue her education through a joint degree program in which she earned a law degree at NYU and a masters in public affairs from Princeton. 

Out of an obligation to provide for her family, Dul took a job at a law firm in New York after graduation representing big companies in complex commercial litigation investigations.

At Perkins Coie, Dul’s current place of employment, she has brought those same skills to spearhead the launching of the Phoenix Legal Action Network. The organization aims to fill the gaps in legal services in the community by connecting a network of attorneys in the Phoenix area to those in need of pro bono legal services. 

“My position in the law firm is really helpful to the people and organizations I work with because they usually don’t have access to a big firm like Perkins Coie,” Dul said. 

The largest gap identified, she said, was the lack of free legal services for immigrants in Phoenix facing deportation. 

“Being deported is basically being exiled and sent away from your family, your job and everything you know, so it can be life or death circumstances for people that are caught in the system," Dul said. "To navigate that alone when the laws are so complicated is a terrible thing." 

Dul knows this pain and fear firsthand as her family fled Cambodia to the Thai-Cambodian border to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide when she was a child before being approved for resettlement in the U.S.

Dul said her life-altering experience as a refugee fuels the work she does now. 

“Having experienced it firsthand, I know how difficult and terrifying it is to navigate this complicated bureaucracy on your own when you don’t understand the system," Dul said. "Sometimes you don’t even speak the language, but the stakes are so high."

At Perkins Coie, Dul said she has hit the jackpot because she is in a position to do the work she is passionate about with the infrastructure and support of a large law firm. 

Dan Barr, a partner at Perkins Coie who nominated her for the award, described Dul’s ability to leverage her personal experiences to benefit so many others as extraordinary.

“She has taken her experience immigrating to this country from Cambodia to benefit hundreds of other people,” Barr said.

In terms of her impact on the community, he said her contributions in providing legal services to those in need are invaluable. 

“Bo has created legal services for people that just didn’t exist before in this community,” Barr said. “Aside from having a superior legal mind, her energy and proactive work in the community is truly astonishing.”

Despite her long list of impressive accomplishments, Barr said Dul remains very humble about her work.

“So many people in the world we live in today spend a lot of time trying to draw attention to themselves," Barr said. "That is something that doesn’t interest Bo at all.”  


Reach the reporter at goldham@asu.edu and follow @graceoldham123 on Twitter. 

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