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Creating a new life through her BYUH education

Gaining an education has helped her to break the cycle of disadvantage, says BYUH student from Thailand

A lady smiling.
After Tangsitpan finishes her studies at BYUH, she hopes to return to Bangkok and help students who don’t get the education and chances they deserve.
Photo by Marwin Villegas

Rose Tangsitpan said no matter how much effort she put into her previous studies, no one cared, supported, or tried to help her leave the stagnant box that she felt the educational system had put her in. Despite her past experience, she said she has learned, “Hard work pays off here at BYU–Hawaii.” At BYUH, Tangsitpan said she believed there was a chance for her. She said, “[You] will have the opportunity to reach out or even the opportunity can come to you. … America is a land of opportunities.”

Tangsitpan, a sophomore majoring in psychology from Bangkok, Thailand, said she felt the big world was waiting for her with open arms when she came to BYUH because there were few opportunities for her back home.

Freshman Phak Phakdeerat from Roiet, Thailand, agreed with Tangsitpan and said BYUH had provided him a chance to grow in his goals and career pathways. He said, “Here [in] Hawaii, you have a lot of opportunities. If you love music, sports, communication or theater, there are options to follow through with it.”

In Tangsitpan’s hometown, she explained how students are put into classes based on their academic intellect, with the scale ranging from class one being the highest to 13 being the lowest. She expressed that she felt the future was dim for her coming from class 12 in the Bangkok education system. She explained being in class 12 meant there weren't many opportunities for her to be something greater than what was offered. “A lot of people could get a lot of opportunities if they were in the higher rank,” she said.

Not excelling in academic studies reduces the opportunities and attention of those students she clarified. “I was put in the low-rank class … so I didn't really have opportunities to know what was happening in school, or possible careers or the scholarships offered. A lot of smart people would get there first and we would know it later,” Tangsitpan recalled.

A lady sitting on the floor while holding a phone and pen.
Tangsitpan says she felt the big world was waiting for her with open arms when she came to BYUH.
Photo by Marwin Villegas

Seeking and finding opportunity

Similar to Tangsitpan, other students have expressed gratitude for the opportunities they have found since coming to BYUH. Loisi Nalesoni, a freshman from Australia majoring in biology, said she has had similar experiences to Phakdeerat and Tangsitpan regarding opportunity. She said she has found her purpose since being here by wanting to give and be present for her community. “I’m glad that I am here. I’m growing and learning here. … It has helped me feel the bond of a community, and I feel that I have a lot of opportunities,” Nalesoni explained.

Through her hard work, Tangsitpan said she had a stroke of luck. During Spring 2022, she said her religion professor asked her to share her research paper on women translating the Book of Mormon in the Religious Topics section of the April 2022 Undergraduate Research Conference. Tangsitpan won an award of $1,000 for her research. Expressing how touched she felt for someone to recognize her efforts, she said, “After trying so hard, I saw that my efforts weren’t useless.”

After Tangsitpan finishes her studies at BYUH, she said she hopes to return to Bangkok and help students who don’t get the education and chances they deserve. With a major in psychology and a minor in organizational behavior, Tangsitpan said she aspires to become a career counselor and achieve her goal of helping children and youth back home who are experiencing what she experienced. “I want them to get the opportunity that I received [at BYUH],” she said.