Each year, Deerfield Academy welcomes the most outstanding applicant from Thailand, and dubs him or her “Thai scholar.”
These students have demonstrated extraordinary abilities in mathematics and science, in the classrooms as well as in larger venues.
For this academic year, another new and ambitious Thai scholar has arrived: Tana Wattanawaroon ‘10.
Coming straight from Bangkok, Thailand, Wattanawaroon is still managing to adjust to Deerfield.
“I come from the heart of the city,” explained Wattanawaroon, “So you can imagine, it’s totally different from here. Everywhere I’d go there would be traffic jams and buildings…But I must say this is a great change. I love the scenery here.”
Back in Bangkok, Wattanawaroon had attended a local school where he learned to speak English and develop his mathematics skills.
“I am very thankful to my previous school. I wouldn’t have been able to even communicate in English if my old school hadn’t taught me,” he remarked.
So how does word about Deerfield’s opportunities get out to students all the way in Thailand?
“I first heard about Deerfield from the former Thai scholars. I heard from them that Deerfield is one of the best prep schools in the U.S. Deerfield then automatically became my first choice.” Wattanawaroon added jokingly, “plus, they told me how good the dessert was here.”
Wattanawaroon has come to the U.S. with the support of the Thai government. After he has completed his higher level education, he has an obligation to return back to Thailand.
“I have to return to Thailand to serve the country, probably as a teacher or a researcher for ten years. This may seem like a long time, but I enjoy teaching and researching, so I’ll be fine.”
Having known the past two Thai scholars, Wich Huengwattanakul ’08 and Panupong (Ice) Pasupat ’09, before coming here, Wattanawaroon admitted that he was extremely nervous to try to fill their shoes. “Everybody who came here from Thailand was the best of the best and I predicted people would compare me to them.”
But now, he is coming to enjoy the challenge. He admitted that it is a great means of motivation to him. So far, it seems as if Wattanawaroon is doing just fine. Enrolled in multivariable calculus, linear algebra, and AP physics, he certainly seems to be meeting the challenge that his predecessors have set for him.
Wattanawaroon showed his gratitude saying, “I first want to thank Ms. Lyman and the Thai government for giving me this opportunity.”
And advice for future Thai scholars? “Make the most of your time at Deerfield. This one year as a Thai scholar is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.”