Published: Thu 27 Oct 2011.

Thai students share more than a million

The candles in the five-armed candelabra glittered along with the crystal chandeliers on the ceiling, setting a sparkling mood for the Sievert Larsson Scholarship award ceremony.

It was the second round of scholarship awards, and the donor himself was very pleased with "his" Thai scholars, who will spend the next two years studying at Chalmers University.
"You are all very talented and I am confident that you are going to succeed in life," he said.

Michael Nystås, project manager for Friends of Chalmers, welcomed the 25-some guests at Chalmersska Huset with a hearty "Sawadee!", which is Thai for 'welcome.' He emphasized the importance of the location:
"It was here that William Chalmers himself lived the last part of his life, and it was here that he died two hundred years ago - shortly after he decided to donate his immense fortune and lay the foundations for what is one of the country's top engineering colleges today. This is where yesterday's history meets the stories of today," said Michael Nystås.

Made possible by a generous donation of two million Swedish kronor, the Sievert Larsson scholarships are targeted at students from Thailand from low-income backgrounds. Sievert Larsson himself, a Gothenburg native and one of the nation's most successful entrepreneurs, has long been active in Thailand, where his highly respected charitable trust provides support for youth in need of education and other types of assistance.
Deputy President and Vice President of Chalmers Mats Viberg held a speech to thank Larsson and stress the importance of a close collaboration with various donors for higher education in general:
"Chalmers is only as good as the students that study here. That's why it's important we attract students from other parts of the world. Through close cooperation with private donors, good students from disadvantaged backgrounds can be given the opportunity to achieve higher academic goals," said Mats Viberg.

Sievert Larsson was impressed by the university's commitment to Lindholmen Science Park ("I saw the future there," as he put it) and considers it an honour to collaborate with Chalmers.
"Chalmers University of Technology has a good reputation and is known far beyond the Swedish borders," said Larsson, who considers himself something of a modern-day successor to William Chalmers.
"Like him, I have had the good fortune of being able to build an economic platform that allows me to help others.”
Larsson spoke briefly about his own years of working in Gothenburg. His first job was at SKF, where he worked for seventeen years in the IT department as a programmer.
"IT was new back then, and I never managed to explain to my mother what I was doing, but she was proud nonetheless."

Then he turned and spoke directly to the winners, Charoenporn Kaewmanorom and Tawan Thammasunthorn, with the words:
"I am convinced that both of you will be successful in life. Your high level of ambition and excellent academic merits speak for themselves; you came out on top in tough competition to win these scholarships. I personally, am proud to be able to help you on your path through life, and would like to remind you not to forget to enjoy yourselves in the midst of your challenging studies.”

The scholarship recipients, visibly moved by the ceremony, received 510,000 Swedish kronor each from the donor, as well as diplomas and flowers from Deputy President Mats Viberg.
Charoenporn Kaewmanorom will use the scholarship for the Masters program in "Entrepreneurship and business design". At the age of four, she was diagnosed with epilepsy, and when her father fell ill as well, the family became entirely dependent on her mother's limited income. Despite the economic difficulties of her childhood, she has achieved high academic goals, and developed into a strong and independent person.
She plans on becoming an entrepreneur like Sievert Larsson and work to improve conditions in Thailand in the future. She loves Gothenburg, and plans to learn Swedish quickly in order to find out more about life here.

For Tawan Thammasunthorn, who will use the scholarship to pay for his Masters studies in Biotechnology, an education in Sweden would not have been possible without Sievert Larsson's scholarship.
He, too, is grateful for the opportunity, and impressed with Larsson's charity work in his homeland.
"He's something of a role model for me, and I hope to be able to help others in the future in the same way he helped me."

Text: Peter Gissy
Photography: Jan-Olof Yxell

See more pictures from the awards ceremony >>>

Read more about the Masters program:

Entrepreneurship and business design


Published: Thu 27 Oct 2011.