Sawangjit Busuwa, or Jit to her friends, grew up in a lower middle-class family of pineapple farmers in Nakhon Panom province in northeast Thailand. Weekends would see her pitch in on the plantation harvesting the fruit alongside her parents. On weekdays, she would be spared getting cut by the long, sharp leaves of the pineapple plant, as she was tasked with preparing dinner after school. Those days are long gone, but they are still warm and fuzzy to the 48-year old single.

One of six children in a close-knit family, Jit has warm and supportive parents who do not impose their aspirations on her. She dreamt of being a teacher but could not make the cut because she failed the university entrance examination to read for an education degree. Undaunted, she left for Bangkok in 1995 to pursue a six-month teaching related course for early childhood caretakers. Soon after the training, she landed a job as a nanny in the capital. As the Thai family spoke English as well, Jit picked up the language quickly which set her up for a role expansion. She also became a secretary to her employer, a senior banker, whom she has worked with for the last 30 years.

The key takeaway for me is I need to invest as much as I can in myself so when the opportunity comes, I will always be ready to grab it.”

Today, Jit makes a salary that is a multiple of what her foundation classmates typically draw. And she is very cleared headed about planning her finances, making sure she puts aside money for her retirement even though she sends a sizeable portion back home to her folks. This is one of many life lessons Jit has learnt from her time spent at the ‘Better Me’ classes. And she did well enough amongst her cohort to be chosen as most outstanding student. “Pratthanadee Foundation taught me valuable lessons and provided me guidance on how to think and plan for the future. The key takeaway for me is I need to invest as much as I can in myself, so when the opportunity comes I will always be ready to grab it.”

Jit is already planning for what she will do when she retires. Her goal is to attain certification in teaching English as a second language so she can teach it for free in her hometown. Also in the works: a mentor and ambassador for ‘Better Me’ program. The initiative is still being worked out by the team at Pratthanadee, but she is very excited about it. “If the foundation wants me to support other students, I would love to do it. I will guide them on setting realistic goals. They should not set too big a goal, it will be too hard to reach and they will feel despondent. Another way I can help is to promote the online and on-site ‘Better Me’ course to others.”