Pinchat Chatpaitoon, a 2006 Central Lakes College honors graduate from Thailand, has graduated at the top of her class at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.
She earned the master of accountancy degree.
She will start her full-time job at Ernst & Young on Sept. 8 as a member of the assurance services practice staff. She has completed all testing to become a Certified Public Accountant.
"The CPA examination is rigorous," said the popular CLC alumna who friends call "Pin." Less than half of those taking the test pass all four parts on their first try within the 18-month allowable period. "You must get at least 75 percent correct answers on each part."
Many of her 29 fellow degree candidates are now studying for the CPA exams. "And I have time off to enjoy summer before I start working," she said, smiling.
Pinchat Chatpaitoon, top graduate in the 2009 Carlson School of Management Master of Accountancy program, with parents Banjong (left) and Darunee.
Upon graduating, Chatpaitoon received two honors: The Carlson Scholar and Outstanding Academic Achievement Award. The Carlson Scholar honors the top 10 percent of each graduating class, based on grade-point average earned through the fall semester prior to commencement. The Outstanding Academic Achievement Award goes to graduating students of the Carlson School's graduate program. It is given to the student who ranks highest scholastically. Chatpaitoon's GPA was 3.93 on a 4.0 scale.
She also became the first student to receive the $10,000 International Student Scholar Award. The Carlson School had never offered scholarships to international students.
Chatpaitoon said she believes the financial aid was made available following an inquiry from Judy Richer, a CLC administrator.
"She called them and asked if they would offer a scholarship," Chatpaitoon said. "They said 'no' and that they never give out scholarships to international students."
Several universities had offered scholarships some of them covering all tuition and fees but Chatpaitoon wanted the challenge at the U of M, and it would keep her within reasonable distance of a younger sister attending Crosby-Ironton High School as an exchange student. It also meant she could follow her best friend, Nutthanit Towan, to the prestigious business school.
Towan, who came to the U.S. from Thailand as an exchange student at Pillager High School, led the way for Chatpaitoon to CLC.
Chatpaitoon came to the U.S. as an exchange student assigned to Mercer, Mo., going there for one year before returning to Thailand to finish high school.
While earning a 3.97 GPA at CLC, Chatpaitoon participated in many activities designed to enrich the campus and community. She and Towan also coordinated several public functions that shared Thai culture.
"The college changed my life," she said. "It allowed me to find my voice, to grow and develop my language skills."
Her sister, Poom, followed her to CLC and this fall will attend the University of Minnesota to major in architecture. The youngest sister, Alex, will be a freshman at Metropolitan State University.
"Poom and I want her to be close to us," Pinchat Chatpaitoon said.
She'll continue to visit CLC.
"Nutthanit, Poom and I have all fallen in love with CLC," Chatpaitoon said. "It is not only my school but also my home."
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