Thanisa Durongkaveroj ’18 tries to take advantage of all Oberlin has to offer, and she’s doing a very good job of it.
A double-degree student majoring in piano performance and visual arts and minoring in theater and politics, Durongkaveroj has no trouble finding time to follow all of her passions. “This is a small school,” she says. “It’s easy to get involved.”
A native of Bangkok, Thailand, Durongkaveroj first heard of Oberlin through her high school piano teacher, a fellow Obie. Once here, she became involved with Oberlin's International Student Organization after responding to an e-mail in her first weeks on campus. Soon she was assuming leadership positions in the group, which provides support for Oberlin’s diverse international student population and organizes events such as first-year orientation and an annual cultural festival.
Being at Oberlin has given Durongkaveroj many opportunities to combine her passions in creative ways. During her junior recital, she performed Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite on piano. Three ballerinas—wearing costumes made by Durongkaveroj—danced in front of a triptych she painted.
During the 2016 winter term, she was an Oberlin Business Scholar, an experience that helped her focus on her longtime interest in business—which, she is quick to point out, has nothing to do with making money. “I didn’t know about ‘social enterprise’ or ‘impact organizations,’ so for me before Oberlin it was all just ‘business.’” Competitively administered, the program invites just 10 to 12 students to take part every year. Each student focuses on clarifying career focus and increasing marketability through lectures, case studies, and on-site visits with alumni.
The experience inspired Durongkaveroj to pursue product design in order to make the arts more accessible to all. Even something as commonplace as a cup or a chair, she says, can be beautiful in addition to being utilitarian, and she wants to use her artistic eye for this purpose after Oberlin.
Her ultimate dream, however, is to move back to Thailand and work to improve the Thai education system through nonprofit work. With a diverse educational background, from Bangkok to Oberlin, Durongkaveroj acknowledges the unique position she’s in. “I’ve been trying to find the balance between my culture and feeling comfortable in America. Being from a different country is so valuable, so I want to keep all that I love from my country.”
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