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International Bestselling Author and Former White House Official to Speak at School of Information Commencement

The School of Information (iSchool) is pleased to announce that international bestselling author and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Sichan Siv will deliver the school's May commencement address.

Born and raised in Cambodia, Siv's incredible journey to success - and what most would term the quintessential American dream - began in 1975 in Phnom Penh, where he was working for the U.S. relief agency CARE. Although the Viet Nam war had ended, the region was far from peaceful - in 1975 Pol Pot's deadly Khmer Rouge entered Cambodia and began a bloody siege.

With the encroachment of the Khmer Rouge in the capital city, the U.S. began evacuating key personnel and locals but Siv missed reaching the American embassy and an airlift to safety by a mere 30 minutes.

He was quickly captured by the Khmer Rouge and imprisoned in a series of slave-labor camps in Cambodia, working 18 hours a day at backbreaking tasks that left many starving and battered prisoners dead.

After a year in the labor camps, Siv escaped to Thailand by jumping off of a logging truck that was passing by the 12th century Cambodia temple of Banteay Chhmar and making a frantic three-day flight on foot through dense, heavily-mined and enemy-patrolled jungle. Although severely wounded by a booby trap en route and jailed in Thailand for illegal entry, he was able to secure a position as an English instructor in a Thai refugee camp and, eventually, make his way to Wallingford, Conn., the home of his refugee sponsor.

Siv's' escape was bittersweet, however. His entire family - 15 total, including his mother - were killed during Pol Pot's reign of terror, which claimed at least 200,000 lives.

Arriving at JFK airport in New York with nothing more than his mother's scarf, an empty rice sack and $2, Siv went on to graduate from Columbia University, earning a master's degree in international relations.

He embarked on a political career that included serving as Deputy Assistant to President George H. W. Bush and making history as the first Asian American Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under President George W. Bush.

In 2001, after unanimous confirmation by the Senate, Siv was appointed ambassador to the United Nations, a position he held until 2006. In June 2005, Ambassador Siv represented the U.S. at the 60th anniversary of the U.N.

In addition to being an international global affairs advisor and motivational speaker, SIv also is a renowned author. He wrote, over a period of 30 years, the bestselling memoir "Golden Bones" and penned a book of poetry entitled "Golden Words."

Siv has been honored with the George H.W. Bush Award for Outstanding Public Service, U.S. Army Commander's Award and Brazilian Academy of Art, Culture and History Honors. He also has been a volunteer in the Civil Air Patrol as well as an honorary commander of the U.S. Air Force.

Siv now lives in San Antonio with his wife Martha, who is from Pampa, Texas.

- Kay Randall, University Communications, 512-363-6520