American Chamber Of Commerce In Thailand Foundation
Below is an account by one of the recipients of the AMCHAM Thailand Foundation’s Student Scholarship about how receiving the scholarship impacted her life’s direction and career opportunities. The AMCHAM Thailand Foundation has been providing scholarships
My name is Saroh Pohtae and I received the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand ( AMCHAM Thailand) scholarship in 2012 while majoring in English at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Thaksin University in Songkhla. This was the most valuable gift I have ever received. In addition to providing me with funds to help survive while at university, it gave me guidelines on how to accomplish my goals for the future. The scholarship was meaningful to my life, hopes, and dreams.
The AMCHAM scholarship was not easy to get. Students had to have a high grade point average ( GPA) and come from a poor family, possibly in a rural area. Students also had to be respected by their teachers as outstanding performers in order to obtain recommendation letters.
I am from Narathiwat Province, one of the three southern provinces which have seen a great deal of insurgent violence in the past decade. My family is large with four younger brothers and sisters. Since my parents divorced, I had been living with my grandparents in a small agricultural village. After completing several years of secondary school, I did not have the finances to continue my education, which was so disappointing. I tried my best to return to school but I was unable to do so as my siblings were too small, and I needed to support my family. I had a dream to be the first person in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and find a good job to help my mother and grandparents. I wanted to escape that hard situation and change our lives for the better, to become a successful person and come back to help my community. But at that point, it was all daydreaming since there was no opportunity to move forward. But then after two years of studying in a religious school, the Thai government offered free tuition and a student loan, so I had the chance to attend a prestigious high school in my province and then go to Thaksin University.
Although my finances were meager, my university time was awesome and nothing could bring me down. I spent all my time studying, so I had a GPA of 3.60 which gave me one semester of free tuition. I also worked part- time as a translator and interviewer for an American anthropologist who was studying the Nora heritage in Phatthalung Province. I worked hard to save money for my senior year, which was reputed to be the hardest as it required an internship. But that internship came with costs as I had to rent a room, and pay for transportation and living expenses while interning for four months at a five- star hotel in Krabi Province. Searching the Internet, I discovered the AMCHAM Thailand scholarship and applied, writing in my essay about my financial needs and life goals. Being awarded the scholarship put me “over the moon.” Because of this scholarship, I could complete my bachelor’s degree without dropping any courses.
The AMCHAM scholarship also included a Career Camp, which was the best experience for preparing me for the working world. I learned many things that I would never have learned in the classroom, and I met other scholarship recipients from universities across the country. We were welcomed with a great dinner party at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Bangkok. I never expected that I would have a chance to visit a stunning fivestar hotel and have the best food I have ever had. On top of
that, we met some of the AMCHAM scholarship recipients from the previous year, who were already successful in their new jobs. They shared their experiences and gave us good recommendations. We also visited several businesses who were AMCHAM members– a hotel, bank and law firm – which were potential employers in the future. We were given a special treatment and taken to the top floor of the bank for a welcome speech by the CEO.
Afterwards, we were taught how to write an effective resume, dress for an interview, and make a good impression with a potential employer, and then we had an opportunity to practice our new skills by sitting down for a job interview with real personnel managers from many companies. Some of the students actually got jobs as a result. It was an incredible experience. I learned that my knowledge was a tool while AMCHAM gave me instruction on how to use that tool effectively.
It has been four years since I received the scholarship. I graduated with first class honors with a bachelor’s degree in 2012, so my dream came true. My family was very happy, especially my grandfather who passed away two years after my graduation. I was offered a permanent staff position at the five- star hotel in Krabi where I did my internship. Thanks to this position, I could become a key financial supporter of my family, including paying for the education of my younger siblings. I also gave advice to the village neighbors and children on how they could further their educations and have better lives.
I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all the donors and AMCHAM staff involved with the scholarship program for the terrific help and opportunities they gave me. I wish that the AMCHAM Scholarship program would continue to help other students like myself and give them hope for the future.
Saroh Pohtae is a recipient of the 2012 AMCHAM Thailand Foundation Student Scholarship. She is currently working at Bangpakok 9 International Hospital.
The author ( standing) at the 2012 AMCHAM Fedex Career Camp
The author ( second from left, bottom row) enjoying a night of bowling with fellow scholarship recepients during the 2012 Career Camp