According to the release:
With a minimal knowledge of English, she faces a great challenge, but says the opportunity outweighs her fears.
“Studying in America gives me priceless experiences,” she said. “I do not get only knowledge, but also new friends and opportunities to do interesting things. I am very glad that I am a part of Darlington School, a warm community that has diverse people living together in unity. At first, I was quite nervous, but I have made many friends and they are all so nice. The teachers are also helpful. I never feel like I am isolated.”
Wiratchotisatian is a Royal Thai Scholar attending Darlington School this year – one of only 50 national scholars selected by the Thai government in 2010. She received a scholarship from the Ministry of Science and Technology.
“Each year, the Civil Service Commission of the Royal Thai government administers highly competitive, nationwide exams. The results of these tests determine who will be awarded the scholarships offered for that year,” explained Sam Moss (’63), dean of college guidance.
The majority of those selected are sponsored by a ministry or agency within the Thai government and supported through graduate school.
For each year of education, they are expected to serve their sponsoring organization for two years, which can mean making a 25- to 30-year commitment to Thailand. Others may be selected to receive the Thaipat Scholarship, which allows a student to study whatever he or she wishes in the categories of science or the humanities.
The category is determined at the time of selection, and the student is supported through graduate school. Upon completion, the scholar may apply for additional funding for a Ph.D. program.
While Thaipat Scholars are still expected to serve the Thai government for two years for each year of their education abroad, their service is not limited to a particular ministry or agency.
“The Thai government created this program to aid them in building human resources to help their country develop,” said John Rorke, executive director for the Global Development Studies Institute and former director of the Thai Scholars Orientation Program.
“Many of the scholars become researchers in a field appropriate for their sponsor. Of course, many also become university professors because the government wants a spread effect for their investment. It’s a great opportunity to obtain a world-class education, especially for those families that could not afford it otherwise.”
Darlington has been a destination school for Thai Scholars since 1992, according to Moss. “There are only 42 schools in the country that the government has selected to get these 50 kids, including very prestigious institutions like Phillips Andover, Choate Rosemary Hall, Phillips Exeter Academy and Deerfield Academy,” he added. “Besides Darlington, there are only three other schools in the South that get them at all, and those are Asheville School, Episcopal High School and St. Stevens Episcopal School.”
Darlington’s Thai Scholars have attended a wide variety of institutions in the United States and Canada, including Carnegie-Mellon University, Columbia University, Cornell University, McGill University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of British Columbia, the University of California, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, the University of Toronto, the University of Virginia, the University of Western Ontario and Virginia Military Institute.
Wiratchotisatian said she is not yet certain which college she will attend next year, but she will soon begin the application process.
“I am going to major in statistics,” she said. “There are many universities on my list, from highly competitive to less competitive. However, I will look at my test scores before I apply. I hope to get into a highly competitive program.”