LAIE, Hawaii BYU-Hawaii has awarded six scholarships to students in Thailand in what is regarded as a landmark agreement between the Thai government and the school.
Under the agreement, BYU-Hawaii will provide six to eight full, four-year, work/study scholarships to some of Thailand's top high school students. The students are selected by a special committee made up of local Thai government and educational leaders and also local leaders of the Church. The recipients of the scholarships need not be members of the Church.
BYU-Hawaii President Eric B. Shumway traveled to Thailand recently to present the initial six scholarships at a special meeting attended by the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Mr. Bhichai Rattakul. Mr. Rattakul's son, Bhichit Rattakul, who is the governor of Bangkok, was also in attendance. Bhichit Rattakul is a graduate of BYU in Provo, Utah.
Calling the evening a historical event, President Shumway said the purpose in offering the scholarships was fourfold: First, the Church has a deep love and respect for the Thai people and the Thai leadership. Second, the Church is engaged in a vast worldwide humanitarian effort to improve conditions and establish friendships throughout the world. Third, the mission of BYU-Hawaii is to train men and women of Pacific and Asian rim countries who will become leaders in their countries and communities. Fourth, the scholarships represent the greatest gift BYU-Hawaii could give to Thailand to offer educational assistance to young people to help them gain the skills to contribute to Thai society.
President Shumway said the agreement is "the culmination of three years of work" and is "a friendship gesture" that will help develop closer ties between Thailand, BYU-Hawaii and the Church. He credits Church Educational System Country Director Suchat Chaichana with pressing the work forward on the program to make it a reality.
The scholarships recognize merit and college preparation. Students receiving the scholarships are Patchanok Kanjanapanjapol, Patanin Kridiborworn, Sarinya Nutthanoo, Kaewklao Siripasraporn, Pothinun Vivithkeyoonvong, and the only male of the group, Piyapan Poungkham. The students will start school at BYU-Hawaii this fall semester.