“There’s truly no school quite like CA,” says Pook Panyarachun ’05, a devoted child and adolescent counselor. Reflecting on her transformative years at Concord Academy, Panyarachun attributes her personal growth to the school’s unique environment: “It made me the person I am today.”
Originally from Thailand, Panyarachun arrived at CA as a boarding student, finding a place where she could authentically embrace her multidimensional self. Balancing the roles of being an athlete and artist, she seamlessly divided her time between the studio and the sports field.
Her journey began on CA’s junior varsity field hockey team during freshman year, where her talent caught the eye of coach Kristin Stiles-Hall P’23 ’24. Recognizing Panyarachun’s potential, she recommended varsity field hockey coach Samantha Eustace train her as a goalie, and by sophomore year, she had made it to the varsity squad. Panyarachun also took on the challenge of cross-training as a goalie for the varsity lacrosse team, eventually captaining both teams while simultaneously pursuing her love for painting.
As a former boarding student, Panyarachun fondly reminisces about the close-knit residential community, praising the homelike atmosphere of the houses, supportive house faculty, and beloved boarding traditions, including bonding over house food.
Panyarachun remains close to her painting teacher and house faculty leader, Jonathan Smith, whom she considers a lifelong mentor and friend. The two continue to visit each other and support each other’s artistic endeavors. “He was my advisor at CA, and he is still my advisor now,” Panyarachun says.
Finding the town of Concord charming, Panyarachun fondly recalls outings with friends, attending town events such as the winter tree lighting, and savoring the local cuisine. Recently, she returned to campus with her mother, Supawan Lamsam ’73, while she attended her 50th CA reunion, and shared an ice cream cone downtown with friends from CA. For both of them, the school still exudes a sense of home.
Praising CA’s “unparalleled academics”, Panyarachun names the diverse classes and passionate teachers as integral to her experience. “Concord prepared me for college,” she says. “It was a true prep school in that sense. My freshman year at college was easier than my senior year at Concord. I was so ready academically and socially to go to university, and I had no problem transitioning at all.”
Panyarachun studied art history at Brown University and worked as a graphic designer before discovering her passion for working with youth through coaching sports. She earned a master’s degree from Harvard and transitioned to a career in education.
Today, she serves as a child and adolescent counselor in her native Thailand while continuing to make art. Panyarachun credits her time as an athletics captain and boarding head of house at CA for instilling counseling skills such as active listening, conflict resolution, and communication.
Feeling that CA provided her with the versatility to work in any industry, she says, “I felt like Concord was never a school that was trying to put me in a box.” The focus was more on skill-building and cultivating a love of learning than on any specific discipline.
Panyarachun expresses gratitude for her CA teachers, including Liz Bedell, George Larivee, Cynthia Katz, Jonathan Smith, Susan Adams, and Madge Evans. Her commitment to honoring CA’s educators compels her to give financial aid and be an ambassador for CA. “I want kids to be able to have the experience I did,” she says. “That’s why I contribute.”
She enjoys connecting globally with current and prospective students, especially those from her home country, Thailand. This autumn, Panyarachun helped organize an event in Bangkok with Head of School Henry Fairfax to introduce the Thai community to the CA experience.
Will you join Panyarachun and other alums who are inspiring students across borders and disciplines to pursue their passions and fulfill CA’s mission? Give today and help continue the CA legacy for generations to come.
Panyarachun ’05 (third from left) at the Concord Academy in Thailand event along with Head of School Henry Fairfax (center), alums, and community leaders.
Panyarachun ’05 with her mother Supawan Pui Lamsam ’73 and former staff member Madge Evans at CA’s reunion.