A, B, C & 1, 2, 3 to Harvard, Oxford, MIT: RIS students continue to excel

Established in 1957, Ruamrudee International School (RIS) has spent 60 years honing its ethos, learning from collective experience and refining its academic provisions. Today, RIS stands as a model of excellence and innovation in global education.

Situated on a beautiful 29-acre, clean-air campus on the outskirts of Bangkok, RIS students from PreK 2 through to grade 12 enjoy state-of-the-art facilities, including 21st-century learning spaces, a FINA-standard Olympic pool, Makerspaces, a recording studio, and robotics lab.

RIS prides itself on its longstanding academic achievements and believes that students learn best with programs that are suited to their individual needs. From PreK 2 through grade 10, students follow a modified American curriculum. The English Language Development program helps students quickly attain fluency in English, while the Learning Support program provides the personalized accommodations needed to be successful. In keeping with this philosophy, RIS is one of the only schools in Asia where high school students can choose between the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program and the Advanced Placement (AP) track. Students score consistently well-above world averages in both programs, securing places at the world’s top colleges and universities. Collectively, the 114 graduates from the Class of 2017 received 415 offers to universities, 136 of which were to the world’s top 100 universities.

But at RIS, success begins long before students graduate. Earlier this year, several participated in the UKMT, a high school math competition including schools from 50 countries. RIS students participated in the Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad and Kangaroo Challenge. Out of 1.5 million competitors, one RIS student was in the top 50, another was in the top 100, and two more fell in the top 25 percent.

In July of this year, Panuvat Chutichetpong, a senior at RIS, was awarded the highest possible recognition at the ASEAN Student Science Project Competition—First Place in the Biological Science Category for inventing a novel sensor that can diagnose for drug-resistant tuberculosis much faster than current methods can diagnose the disease. His win meant that he outperformed national winners from seven different ASEAN countries. Panuvat was also recently selected as Thailand’s Youth Inventor and Innovator of the Year for additional research and inventions he has worked on over the past few years at RIS.

A group of environmentally-conscious students earned an Honorable Mention for their films in the Educational category at the 2016 CTLPDX International Film Festival: Earth Day, in Portland, Oregon. The students wrote, directed, filmed, and produced films for the festival about the consequences of our abuse of plastic in today’s society, challenging peers, teachers, and administrators to live a day without plastic. The judges were so impressed by the project that they said they would strive to live a day without plastic themselves.

Excellence at RIS is not limited to academics alone; students constantly strive to develop their “heads, hands, and hearts.” Artistic expression is nurtured through extensive curricular and extracurricular options, such as concerts, art shows, and annual musical, talent, and variety shows. With 70 sports teams, RIS offers one of the largest athletic programs of any international school in Southeast Asia.

RIS students regularly give back to local and global communities by raising funds and working directly with various charities. Several high school clubs have developed long-term relationships with orphanages, animal shelters, and group homes that they visit and support frequently. Some efforts currently underway are a water and reforestation project to supply fresh, clean water to several villages and communities in northern Thailand and the “Thailand Teaches Texas” project, where students create videos for the students in Texas displaced by the recent flooding and destruction by Hurricane Harvey.

RIS sets itself apart from the competition with its mindful emphasis on service-learning, helping its students develop empathy and a social responsibility to care for others who are less fortunate. This is evident from the recent successes of some of the school’s alumni. Former student Oranicha Jumreornvong (Natty), a 2017 graduate of Stanford University, is combining her passion for medicine and philanthropy to help families suffering with Huntington’s disease, a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. Natty was awarded a grant to conduct research for her thesis on the role of social enterprise in the well-being of disabled people in Thailand, where she is now helping to draft the Disability Empowerment Act (DEA) as a policy advisor.

Natty reached out to families in 47 countries who have been affected by Huntington’s disease through a series of short stories, international conferences, and documentary screenings. This led to her being acknowledged by the Princess of Thailand with a Social Innovator Award in 2016, as well as securing an early entry Flexmed Scholarship by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

Another RIS alumna, Voranaddha Vacharathit, MD, from the Class of 2006, wrote recently: “While moving forward, it is critical to recognize the people who helped shape who you are and the early formative experiences of a career. Ruamrudee International School and, importantly, its educators, is one such example.”

She added, “The most important skill I acquired at RIS, which served me well both at Harvard and later on in my career as a surgery resident, was self-expression through writing and public speaking, as well as the courage to do both in academic and other settings.”

RIS alumni go on to have other prominent careers in all areas of medicine; as government leaders, diplomats, and researchers; in the entertainment and film industries; as professional athletes; and in the emerging fields of AI and design technologies.

Chanchanok Poolvoralaks, a former RIS graduate from the Class of 2010, went on to study Law (BA) at the University of Oxford. She is currently an English-qualified lawyer, specializing in global energy and infrastructure projects, employed by a leading law firm in London.

Chanchanok says, “For me, RIS’ emphasis on service was the most important aspect of my education…compassion and sympathy are core values at RIS. The education we were provided made sure we were aware of our privilege, and that we should use our privilege to speak up for those who are less privileged. We were taught that that was what true leadership was about, and I cannot agree more.”

This is why RIS students continue to forge positive, lasting legacies for the world.

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