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Pongsiri Vorapongse - (PhD student) Politics & International Studies

Pongsiri is a third-year PhD student in Politics & International Studies and a Gates Cambridge scholar. Prior to coming to St John’s, Pongsiri’s work experience included two years at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand and a year at the Thai central bank. He received his M.A. in International Relations with distinction from Johns Hopkins-SAIS, Washington D.C., and B.A. in Economics with first-class honours from Thammasat University, Bangkok.

"It is a real privilege for me to be part of the St John’s community. To begin with, my academic pursuit has benefited immensely from the outstanding resources and support provided by the College. As a PhD student working on the politics of central bank reform, I truly appreciate the financial and non-financial assistance given to me by St John’s. Such support allowed me to undertake successfully archival research and extensive fieldwork overseas. Moreover, St John’s Learning and Research Fund has enriched my intellectual development, enabling me to acquire essential study tools and hone my skills through conference participation in places as far as Sydney. I also enjoy talks and seminars on Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) subjects organised by the College, one example of which was the 2013 Hinsley Memorial Lecture on U.S. foreign policy given to a full-house audience by Professor Stephen Walt of Harvard Kennedy School.

The College staff have also been very attentive and helpful to my various inquiries on all sorts of issues including applications for fieldwork, a railcard and for a visa for an overseas conference, laptop problems, request for new library books related to my research, accommodation issues, etc. Whether the issues are minor or major, the staff are always quick and willing to respond to them effectively. The quality of the staff really makes for the most hassle-free student life, allowing me to focus my energy on research and other important activities.

Moreover, St John’s provides fantastic and ample opportunities for you to relax and enjoy your time at Cambridge. Among other activities, I love listening to some of the most talented young musicians, with splendid ambience, at the Master’s Lodge  concerts. I also enjoy training with and playing for St John’s SBR (Samuel Butler Room, St John’s Graduate Society) football team. The team spirit on and off the pitch played a big part in getting us promoted twice!

In sum, St John’s tremendous all-round support and social environment really allow me to pursue my research smoothly and make for a rewarding Cambridge experience. If you are searching for a college that really cares about giving you access to all the resources you need to thrive as a HSPS student and as a person, look no further than St John’s!"

Pongsiri Vorapongse, May 2014