Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thai immigrant wins law enforcement scholarship

Thirada Kingphuang
Grossmont College student Thirada Kingphuang has received from the San Diego Police Foundation a Rita Olsen Memorial scholarship of $2,500 awarded to women pursuing an education preparatory to a career in law enforcement.
Kingphuang left her family and everyone she knew in the rural, teak-forest-covered Uttaradit province of northern Thailand in 2009 to pursue a career in forensic science in California. 

She said that she dreamed of catching the "bad guys" ever since she was a young girl. Until the 1990’s many criminal convictions were not based on evidence, but instead confessions, she said.  However,  Dr. Portnip Rojanasunand introduced Forensic Science for criminal investigations. 

Kingphuong said Dr. Rojanasunand is a role model for those who want to make sure that everyone is treated fairly within the criminal justice system.
Kingphuang lost her father when she was six years old, which meant that from an early age she had to help provide for her family.  Her traditional family told her that women must not do men’s work, so she decided to immigrate to the U.S. in order to follow her dream without giving daily offense to her family. 
In her scholarship essay, Kingphuang said that “studying at Grossmont has been one of the most difficult and exciting things I have done with my life."   When she first started taking classes, she said, she "had to work 10 times harder" than English-speaking classmates just to keep up.  She said she even thought about giving up on her dream.  But she pushed through and holds a 4.0 average.
I feel grateful that my hard work has been recognized," she said upon being notified of the award earlier this semester.  "I'm proud to be selected as a second annual Rita Olson's scholarship recipient.”

“Thirada is an excellent example of the high-quality students who enter the Career and Technical
Education programs at Grossmont College, and whose determination helps them overcome some tremendous hardships,” said Dr. Christina Tafoya, the program’s dean.

She said she will use the scholarship money to defray the costs of transportation, school fees, training, and living expenses.

Kingphuang served as the president of the American Justice Association at Grossmont College, and additionally is an elected member of the board of the directors of the Associated Students of Grossmont College.   She is currently an intern at the Chula Vista Police Department Crime Laboratory. 
The scholarship recipient is finishing her last semester with the Forensic Science program at Grossmont College and says she wants to transfer to UCSD in a year once she has her lower division classes finished.

Kingphuang said her long-term plan is to become a forensics professor to share education and field training with the next generation of students.
-- by Carissa Leigh, an intern in Grossmont College's office of college and community relations.