Jenny Lau


Jenny Lau was born in Cambodia in 1970, the third of seven children. She was just five years old when the Khmer Rouge forcibly relocated her family and most of Cambodia to live and work in one giant concentration camp. She endured years of living in fear, under constant threat of starvation, disease, and even execution. The family’s daily survival depended on finding the next drop of water, the next grain of rice. One third of the population of Cambodia perished in the killing fields and concentration camps under the Khmer Rouge. Against these incredible odds, Jenny’s family survived. Jenny’s memoir Beautiful Hero: How We Survived the Khmer Rouge documents her family’s journey from an idyllic rural town, through forced marches and concentration camps of war-torn Cambodia, to a new life in the United States. It is the story of their sacrifice, survival and triumphs.

Arriving in America at age twelve, illiterate and traumatized, Jenny worked full-time alongside her family to contribute to their fragile new beginning, while concurrently pursuing her education and learning how to survive the challenges of her new country. The struggles of her early years and her understanding of life’s harsh realities served her well in her studies at the University of California, Irvine where she earned dual degrees in Chinese and Chinese Literature, and Economics.

Today, Jenny Lau is a CPA and the president of the Certified Public Accounting firm of Topp and Lau, Inc. She lives in Orange County, California with her husband and two children who are now attending UC Berkeley and UC San Diego. Having been deprived early on of education herself, Jenny contributes both time and money to her immediate and extended communities to combat illiteracy. She speaks at high schools and universities on topics related to Cambodia genocide as a part of students’ curriculum to enhance their perspective and understanding of how easily a country can spiral into chaos.

Also, when possible, she volunteers with Junior Achievement to educate students about financial literacy. Jenny is currently serving on the board of the Savong Foundation, which sponsors tuitions and, when necessary, provides food and accommodation to eligible students so they may attend a private school to complete a university education.

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