Inspiring Caring Leaders Across Cultures  

Khun Suphatra Srimaitreephithak


Published Date : Dec 27, 2017


People say half-jokingly that Fulbrighters are fully bright and are at their best in any situation. We learned from khun Suphatra Srimaitreephithak Director-General, Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), 1986 Fulbright alumna, and the Fulbright Thailand’s Board member, that this could be true.

DG Suphatra received a Fulbright grant to Ohio University for a master degree in International Affairs and made the most of her time while in the United States. Her study went well as planed and she also she won another Fulbright grant to Los Angeles to do a special research. In addition to her study, she joined as much activities and events as she could. So, she got to know a lot of people and learned more about American culture. Despite her busy schedule, she could manage her time to enjoy playing volleyball with friends. Indeed, she had productive and enjoyable Fulbright years.

Her success comes with lessons. DG Suphatra emphasized that grantees (and other students alike) must firstly know their goal well. Before applying for the Fulbright grant, she had been working with MFA for a year. She was able to set expectations before and after the grant. The solid plan not only helped convince the grant committee but also made her study constructive. When she first arrived at Ohio University, she found out that the university adopted a quarter system in which students took three semesters a year. It was tough but with great help from her advisor, she struggled to pass the first quarter and gradually adjusted. DG Suphatra then suggested grantees acquire detailed information on education system of the programs, schools, and universities early in advance. When they know what to expect, they would feel less stressed and pressures. Having a good start also helps a lot. With help from her advisor, she had a good start which gave her energy and inspiration to move on.

Studying abroad is stressful. DG Suphatra recommended that grantees maintain their good health. Playing sports is useful. They can also join extra-curricular activities available in every universities. Engaging themselves in these social activities will not only open up their world view but also expand their network. Good health and supporting network are necessary for one’s achievement in life and in work.

DG Suphatra’s success story continue after the end of the grant. She returned to MFA and has been working for the job she is passionate with. She also plays a key role conveying national agenda to relevant individuals and agencies including the Fulbright Board, making sure that their endeavor corresponded with the needs of the nation. DG Suphatra believes that with the knowledge and experience gained, Fulbrighters should be able to contribute to the nation, their communities, families, and themselves. Then, their success will also be the success of the Fulbright Program and the country.