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Kanokwan Tungkitkancharoen ’25

Kanokwan Tungkitkancharoen ’25

Executive Director
Graduation Year: 2025
Program: 2: Mechanical Engineering and 17: Political Science
Trajectory: Las Vegas → MIT

I grew up in a funny town. Vegas is as wonky as you’d expect for a kid, but that taught me a lot. Having lived in both a very vanilla house of suburban sprawl and a downtown home that once belonged to a drug lord, I saw clearly who was getting what out of the city. It flashes glamour, fun, and lights—but that’s only for those that can afford it. I watched people have fun from a far distance while growing up. Sure, I lived next to the beloved tourist attractions, but I didn’t experience them.

My parents had left everything in Thailand and immigrated to the U.S. a few years prior to my birth. However, their dream of opportunity quickly dissolved after our family found itself sitting on the edge of homelessness and living on Food Stamps and Medicaid. My father juggled odd jobs while my mother transitioned from housewife to worker. Dreams of college weren’t in my mind; I often pondered how we were to make a living. Long story short, we made things work. We all worked jobs to keep the place running.

One of the things that kept me afloat was a deep fascination with the world around us. I think learning is inherently a fun thing, but the way school is structured seems to tarnish that. I so enjoyed going to school because I was exposed not only to exciting topics but also to the possibilities of a better life beyond mine. Machines that tremendously enhance our lives, physics principles that underpin why and how things operate, political systems that quietly operate around us—these ideas captivated me. I could see myself doing something important within these fields and crafting a more-hopeful future for my family.

MIT champions a rigorous academic environment and deliberate care for underserved communities: a combination I, unfortunately, find rare. The FGLI community is a wonderful way to connect people from similar walks of life. In university, I’ve been working on renewable energy research to revive failed facilities, dancing for the fire spinning team, and dabbling in makerspaces around campus. There’s so much going on here. So much. If you need any help navigating all that MIT has to offer, a laugh, or anything else, I’m an email away.