Prang Pantusart brought her A game to The University of Akron, and from her first days on campus until now, she has been in top form in the classroom and on the tennis court.
The native of Chiang Mai, Thailand, is an honors finance major, with an emphasis on corporate financial management, and she has been a standout on the women's tennis team. On Friday, May 10, Pantusart will receive a B.S. in Finance, cum laude at the 7 p.m. commencement ceremony, at which she has been chosen to speak on behalf of the Spring 2013 Class as the student responder.
Pantusart, who has been playing tennis since age 7, credits the sport with introducing her to UA.
Upon learning that longtime best friends and fellow tennis players, Angelika and Angelina Jogasuria, were coming to the University, she took a closer look herself.
"When I found out about the excellent business program and the opportunity to play Division I collegiate tennis, I chose to come to Akron, too," says Pantusart.
Ranked No. 173 by the International Tennis Federation in April 2009, Pantusart was offered a full scholarship to UA. Through her years on the team playing singles and doubles matches, Pantusart has received several awards. They include Most Valuable Player tournament honors and being named to the all-tournament team in 2012, right after the Zips clinched their second Mid-American Conference championship in as many years.
Her success on the court is matched in the classroom. Honored as a scholar-athlete by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, she has made the Dean's List seven consecutive semesters.
Pantusart, who has traveled to more than a dozen countries over her young life, has continued to expand her worldview while at UA. She had a one-month study abroad experience at the University of Ulsan in Korea, and, in summer 2012, served two internships in her hometown. She worked at the Krung Thai Bank as a loan assistant manager, and as a lawyer assistant with the Royal Thai Police.
"The time spent in Korea was an amazing opportunity," says Pantusart. "My internships helped me to apply what I've learned in my classes to the real world."
And, so has the time she devoted to community service. Pantusart has volunteered for several organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank, where she helped package food donations for Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
She would have liked to be more involved.
"It's very hard to balance everything," notes Pantusart, who credits Dr. Melinda Newman, an associate professor of finance, with helping her stay on track when she had to miss classes to travel with the team. “Fortunately, I enjoyed my classes and I tried to manage my available time to get everything done.”
Head Coach Brandon Padgett says Pantusart not only succeeded, she has been a role model for the freshman members of the team who face the same challenges.
"Prang is not only one of my favorite players of all-time, but also one of my favorite people of all-time," says Padgett. "Her ability to balance the life of a student-athlete is phenomenal, especially at the level at which she accomplished both."
"I like tennis very much, and I will miss playing on the team, but I will still play for myself," says Pantusart with a smile.
She will have one more opportunity to shine at the collegiate level. Pantusart and doubles partner Angelina Jogasuria make up one of the 32 teams selected to compete in the NCAA Championship May 22-27 in Urbana, Ill. The duo, with a No. 41 national ranking, had an 18-0 dual-match record and a 19-1 overall mark this season.
Then, Pantusart will shift her focus to the world of business. She has accepted an offer to become an import administrator with Eastland Food Corporation in Jessup, Md.
"It will be a little hard to leave Akron, because all my friends and professors are here. To me, this has been a second home — where I grew up," says Pantusart.
"I would encourage new freshmen to get involved and make the most of their time here," Pantusart continues. "Akron will welcome you as warmly as if it were your own home."