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Anyarat Nattheeraphong

Anyarat Nattheeraphong (PhD English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 2013)

I was shortlisted for the UK Alumni Awards 2022 in Thailand. Here's my story.

Education has always been my passion. When I was young, there were always teachers whom I found inspiring and regarded as my role models. I always observed the way these teachers inspired their students by working closely with them, listening to them, and ensuring that their voices were heard. The more I reflected on what I saw, the deeper understanding I had of how what a teacher did could uplift the lives of others. One thing that remains vivid in my mind is what my university teacher conveyed at the pre-graduation ceremony I attended. The key message that captured both my heart and my soul was: "Education is funded with public money. Public servants serve the people of the country." Since then, whenever life rewards me with opportunities, I always think of what I can do to contribute more to the wellbeing of others.

One day, back in 2009, I was awarded the Royal Thai Government Scholarship to do my PhD at the University of Warwick. The experiences I gained during my PhD years shaped the way I approach life. I have learned that failures are opportunities to do better. The advantage of participating in a wide range of activities both inside and outside of the University is the opportunity it affords to empower both myself and others. The more I see the world, the more I discover about myself and about what I can do to empower other people the same way those life opportunities empower me.

Since I came back to Mahasarakham University (MSU) in 2013, I have started fulfilling my dream. I design a long-term English development project entitled "MSU Homeroom". The project is aimed at 1) helping students develop essential skills necessary for their growth and development, 2) promoting foreign language learning both inside and outside the classroom by providing support and organising English and language activities that cater to different needs and interests, and 3) establishing a community of learning to promote life-long learning. For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/msu.homeroom/. I also wrote a book about the project: https://issuu.com/msuhomeroom/docs/ebook_a_practical_guide_to_designi ng_and_managing_

To achieve the goals, my office organises activities that can be categorized into four main themes: 1) English and foreign language learning activities, 2) cultural activities, 3) skill-based activities, and 4) global citizenship activities. We serve at least 45,000 students each year. There are many inspirational stories to share when it comes to working with my team and student volunteers to uplift the lives of MSU students. Both the volunteers and participants have gained more confidence and become more motivated and proactive in their learning and self-development. In short, we have successfully established a community of learning. Our community is getting bigger and stronger, and our team keeps improving our work to ensure its impact and sustainability. The change I have witnessed in the students is what inspires me to do more for them.

The reason why we need a long-term, university-wide student development program is that MSU is a regional university with a distinctly heterogeneous group of students from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Some students are first-generation college students (FGCSs) who come to MSU with a variety of strengths and challenges. Both FGCSs and non-FGCSs need a safe, supportive community of learning where they are encouraged to appreciate diversity as well as empowered to set their goals and make positive and impactful changes in their lives while developing the skills and abilities necessary for their future academic and professional endeavours.