But first, let me acknowledge the role of the trustees of the Princess Srinagarindra Award Foundation for selecting me. And a special expression of gratitude to Professor Tassana Boontang for her leadership in nursing and to Professor Somchit for creating an impactful journal that has become a leading journal in South East Asia.
Now, let me share my views of how Her Royal Highness Princess Srinagarindra and Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn are alike.
The Princess's Grandmother, Srinagarindra, served the Country with love, loyalty, dignity, and with a focus on alleviating the suffering of many, particularly the underserved. She established schools, insured access to health care and instituted many preventative health programs. She worked on improving the life of the rural Thais. Her love for her country extended to rehabilitating the forests, and in that, she was a visionary and ahead of her time in thinking about the sustainability of our planet. She was a dedicated role model, who I know has inspired many to emulate her actions. She was honored by UNESCO as a distinguished leader in public service in the fields of education, applied science and human, social and environmental development.
Following in her footsteps, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn realized the difficulty villagers faced in accessing health care, education and quality living, so she helped over 200 schools to improve education and health care access for children. Her work makes health care a right, not a luxury. Princess Sirindhorn is able to speak with children and the elderly and make them feel valued and cared for. She is invested in cultivating their best capacities to live quality lives and to succeed.
We know her in the USA as the “Angel Princess,” as she brings everyone humility and genuine caring, instilling hope in their lives - whether in times of peace, turmoil, disaster or conflict - just like her grandmother, Princess Srinagarindra. She continues to build on her grandmother’s vison and goals for the health and the education of the vulnerable among us.
The love between them reminds me of my own grandmother, whose accomplishments were limited to her immediate family. A farmer from a small village in Egypt, she was never educated in a school - but she was educated by life experiences. She managed to raise a daughter, my mother, who achieved the highest education and the top leadership positions in the nursing profession, not only in Egypt, but in many parts of the Middle East. As a farmer, my grandmother delivered her own babies while in the field, losing many of them along the way. In spite of limited resources and no formal education, she instilled in me a love for education and a work ethic to care for other people, all of which propelled me to receive this incredible award. She would be so proud to know I am receiving an award that reflects the love between a grandmother and a granddaughter.
Receiving this award would not have been possible if I had not been involved in working with and learning from my many Thai colleagues and mentees. That being said, my involvement and love for Thailand developed because of the incredible leadership of Dr. Tassana Boontong. I met Dr. Boontong over 25 years ago, and her charismatic leadership and strategic vision for Thai nursing instantly struck me. Some people have a vision, but they do not follow up with proactive leadership and action. Dr. Boontong understood the connection between vision and action, and knew that without proper education, nurses would not be able to make a difference in health care. Through the Thai Parliament, she insured that nurses could get scholarship and fellowship support to obtain the highest education. She ventured even farther, establishing a pioneer doctoral program in collaboration with other schools of nursing in Thailand - a model program that benefitted from the teaching and expertise of the best minds from several Universities. I had the distinct honor to be invited to teach in that program. And now, as we look around, many of the movers and shakers in nursing in Thailand are a direct result of Dr. Boontong’s efforts.
It is also because of Dr. Boontong that I have enjoyed the good fortune of developing mentoring relationships with my many mentees here. To all of these mentees, I extend my deep appreciation for their diligent work and outstanding leadership in health care.
I am genuinely grateful to receive the Princess Srinagarindra Award, and I would like to extend my appreciation to the Trustee Committee and to all who supported my nomination and selection. It is truly an honor to receive an award that reflects committed valuation of nursing contributions, not only in Thailand, but all over the world. So I thank you Princess Sirindhorn, on behalf of all nurses worldwide.