Now a visiting professor of law and diplomacy at UCLA and senior fellow at the Burkle Center, Kantathi Suphamongkhon will be one of three panelists to speak at the International Career Panel today, sharing his story and the insight he gained in international affairs.
By Jenny Hong for The Daily Bruin
May 13, 2010
When Kantathi Suphamongkhon first stepped onto the UCLA campus in 1973, he was an undergraduate pre-med student. At the time, his father was the Thai ambassador to the U.S., but Suphamongkhon wanted to keep his career options open.
While he was a student, Suphamongkhon wrote a letter to President Richard Nixon sympathizing with the president over the Watergate scandal.
Nixon was so touched after reading the letter that he invited Suphamongkhon to meet with him. The two had a long conversation about Suphamongkhon’s job options, which ultimately convinced Suphamongkhon to pursue a career in diplomacy, like his father did.
Suphamongkhon went on to become the foreign minister of Thailand, and served in other positions in the Thai government.
Now a visiting professor of law and diplomacy at UCLA, he will be one of three panelists to speak at the International Career Panel today, sharing his story and the insight he gained in international affairs.
Alexandra Lieben, deputy director of the Burkle Center and coordinator of the career panel, said the panelists invited to speak were chosen based on student requests and on their “not-so-straightforward careers.”
Although Suphamongkhon will be speaking about his professional career and sharing the knowledge he has gained from the many public positions he has held, he said he does not wish to advocate his particular career, nor careers limited to international affairs.
He added that he hopes students will get more from his story than the know-how of what it takes to lead a successful career in international affairs.
“In life, I think we learn so much from not only our experience but from other people’s experiences – experiences that can be shared across careers,” Suphamongkhon said.
The other two panelists are Dr. Claire Panosian (Dunavan) and Stephen Commins, currently a lecturer in the Department of Urban Planning.
Panosian, a practicing physician and a medical journalist, is the co-founder of the UCLA Program in Global Health, which conducts research in and promotes awareness of HIV/AIDS and other global diseases. Panosian is also a medical journalist, an occupation she took up to escape the daily routine of being a doctor.
Commins is the former director of the Development Institute at the UCLA African Studies Center, He researches regional and international development, with an emphasis on service delivery and governance in fragile states, according to the UCLA Burkle Center website.
Suphamongkhon said he wants to emphasize that a career in international affairs does not have a straightforward track, but is rather about networking and taking advantage of opportunities that will shape a successful career in international affairs.