Global Raiders: Thailand native’s aviation dream b...

Global Raiders: Thailand native’s aviation dream becomes reality at MTSU 

Nakanya Rodruepid, an MTSU senior from Chiang Mai, Thailand, who’s majoring in aerospace, sits on the wing of a small airplane. Roduepid is an MTSU international student ambassador, one of several students from other countries who volunteer to help new international students become adjusted to their new surroundings. (Photo submitted)

Most people call me Matoom, which is a type of fruit, but my legal name is Nakanya Rodruepid. I came about 9,000 miles from my home country of Thailand, to pursue my aviation dream and become a professional pilot. When I was in high school, MTSU sent a representative to Thailand to promote the school. I decided to attend MTSU because of the resources available for international students, how welcoming the representative was, the scholarships offered for international students, and the quality of the aerospace program. 

Campus involvement is an excellent way for international students to get to know people, learn about American culture, and feel closer to home. I decided to join an aerospace fraternity called Alpha Eta Rho to make more friends who have similar interests and expand my connections. Not long after that, I joined Women in Aviation International. Through this organization, I had a chance to volunteer at different events and help support women in the very male-dominated aviation industry. Recently, I have had the excellent opportunity to become an international student ambassador, so feel free to ask me anything about college student life, academics, or how to have fun in Murfreesboro! 

MTSU’s Aerospace Department is one of the best aerospace programs in the United States. All of teachers that are in the aerospace program are very involved in their students’ success. I love the hands-on experiences that I get from flying airplanes during labs. The lab instructors are very involved with their students, helping me to gain confidence in flying, while promoting safety in the aviation program. The aerospace department has so many professional pilots that can guide students towards their goals. The faculty are very experienced in aviation. The flight instructors usually are hired into the regional airline profession, and some of the professors are retired airline pilots. In addition, faculty involvement increases my professional network, and this will become very helpful in my future career. 

It is not easy to move to a new place where I did not know anyone. However, it was not impossible with the support of fellow students, professors, and the international student offices. I remember the day that I landed in Nashville, and I had a volunteer pick me up from the airport. It was such a heartwarming feeling. This kind of welcoming had continued throughout my four years of college at MTSU.  Currently, every Tuesday there is an international student dinner within walking distance of campus. There is always delicious, free food for every student! In addition, there is good conversation with local and other international students. There is only one rule for the meetings which is to speak only English. This helps international students practice their English skills in casual, safe setting. Other than the dinner, there are trips that are both day trips and overnight adventures. Some of these are free, but others are offered at a very affordable price for students. I went to one of the picnics that was organized by the international office during my freshman year, and I met one of my best friends at that event! These activities are open to all international students to meet others and connect in their new city! 

Three reasons that I would recommend MTSU to other international students is that MTSU is very affordable when compared to other schools in the States. There are so many scholarships available both inside and outside of specific departments.

The second reason is that MTSU has a very high quality of education. If you work hard and are willing to learn, you will succeed. Also, many times the professor will be available outside of the classroom, during their office hours, and will answer any questions you might have.

The third reason is the location of MTSU. Murfreesboro is a medium sized city that is surrounded by beautiful parks and nature trails. However, it is also only about a 30-minute drive to Nashville, which is known as Music City. Students will have a lot of chances to choose the lifestyle and activities that they want. Leaving my home, my parents, and my friends to come to MTSU was not an easy decision. There were so many obstacles in the way, but with the help of my new friends, professors, and the international student offices, this decision turned out to be a life-changing experience that will benefit me forever.” 

Contributing writer Nakanya Rodruepid is a senior professional pilot major. She is part of the International Student Ambassador program that was launched in the Fall of 2020 by the Office of International Affairs. Ambassadors mentor incoming international students to help them adjust to the United States and give advice about getting involved on campus and how to be successful at MTSU.