Royalty returns to Fresno: Cambodian Princess Soma Norodom gives back to Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As a part of Women's History Month, Action News is honoring women making a change in the Central Valley.

Princess Soma Norodom of Cambodia, is a Fresno State graduate, author, and philanthropist. Now, she is back in Fresno to serve the community.

It is a story of royalty and triumph. Princess Soma of the Cambodian Royal House of Norodom and her royal family were the first refugees in Long Beach, California, in 1975.

Fleeing a war-torn Cambodia, Princess Soma remembers coming to the United States as a child, seeking safety.

"You are just running for your life so coming here, that is how I felt as a refugee," Soma recalls.

After finishing high school in Long Beach, Soma followed her father, Prince Vatvani Norodom, to Fresno.

They started the Cambodian Community of Fresno, which served as a resource for refugees, just like him.

"He understood to be in poverty and poor. Because when you are a refugee, you start off from the bottom," says Princess Soma.

She remembers her father as a loving and giving man, and is following in his footsteps.

Soma lost her father in 2012 -- his wish of dying in his home country was fulfilled.

When she was caring for her father, Soma claimed her royal title, and learned the royal ways of life.

She chose to be a working Princess, something some in her family did not agree with. Her first book, "Royal Rebel," explains the difficult decision.

She has a successful career in Communications and on this Women's History Month, she says she is proud to be a woman.

"Being a woman is having the freedom. Not every country can do that but in the United States, we are so blessed to have the freedom, we have the independence to speak our mind," says Soma.

Soma thanks education and life experiences for her success. She is a Fresno State graduate, mentors young students, and works at a local nonprofit, Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, that helps the homeless get back on their feet.

She is using her royal title for good and hopes to stay in the Central Valley until she retires.

Soma says this all feels familiar.

"It is kinda like a 360. I have gone and now I am back here, and to me, I feel kinda complete."

Almost complete.

She is working on her second book, it is about healing. Soma lost her fiance in a tragic car accident on Memorial Day morning of 2018.

In her second book, we hear stories from people who are coping with losing a loved one. She hopes her second book can help many.

As a Princess who gives back, she shares there is a princess in all of us. We just have to let the light of good shine.
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