Lessons you can’t learn at your university classes

The story begins in a coffee shop on my campus at Thammasat University. I was having a conversation with my friend about how to make our senior year meaningful, like our grand finale before the curtain call. We, as students at Thammasat, and especially me as a Global Studies and Social Entrepreneurship student, had a lot of chances to do social innovation projects and convert it to a startup or a business. But sadly most of the projects just end after the semester. I really thought that each project had the potential to actually change something. While we were talking, it hit me like a silver lightning. “Dude, we should do Hult Prize here! Let’s be the host.” Dead silence. Then my friend said, “there is just one chance to blow it, right?” That is how our journey began.

“ Hult Prize is not just a competition, it is an ignition for the young generation like us to do something good, something impactful in our society.”

Jirasuta Boonjue

I started with team recruiting, which is the hardest part since not a lot of people here in Thailand know about the Hult Prize and it was my first time hosting a competition at a university scale. Finding people to work with is a challenge because it is volunteer work and they can just quit anytime. I was lucky enough to find 30 passionate people to work with throughout my Hult Prize journey at Thammasat. We organized info sessions for those interested in competing. It was the first time most of us organized a session like this, but it turned out well and friendly. We also organized a workshop called “Intro to SE” to give them a clearer picture of what we are doing and give them a clue on how social enterprises look like since it’s a new business trend in Thailand. We had a two-day “Boot Camp” for students to learn the basic skills needed in the social enterprise world and help them develop their ideas. Two weeks later, we hosted our internal pitch, where we recruited eight judges to select the four finalists. On November 17, we hosted the final pitch or “The Pitch” as my team called it. It was unbelievable that we were able to pull of such a fantastic pitch and I never thought this was going to be the outcome. I give all the credit to my fantastic team. I could not have done this beautifully without them and a thank you to all the judges who volunteered their time to help us. Working with all of them was such a beautiful memory that I will forever cherish.

I have learned a lot from this experience. I thought that I would be the one to inspire the teams and participants but it is actually them who inspired me. Being a leader is not only leading the teams towards their goals but also inspiring them and keeping up the energy. Leadership is not just giving direction and managing, but also listening and empathising with those working with you. I personally gained a lot from this opportunity such as friendships, connections, job offers, and experiences. But the most valuable gift was when people came to me and told me that “You are an inspiration. Keep doing this and don’t ever change” From that moment I knew that I finally made my senior year meaningful and not just for me but the entire university. Lastly, I wanted to say that we gather because we believe that our actions matter. Do not wait too long to follow your dreams, do it, act now. Making a decision is just the beginning of things. Even though the Hult Prize at Thammasat 2018-2019 is over, the new chapter of life-changing opportunities at our university had just begun!

“You are an inspiration. Keep doing this and don’t ever change.”

One of our judges told me.

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