Campus / News / October 5, 2016

Lawyer quits job, enrolls at Knox

Freshman Judd Pubpanon is a non-traditional student at Knox, enrolling after he quit his job in Thailand. (Dan Perez/TKS)

Freshman Judd Pubpanon is a non-traditional student at Knox, enrolling after he quit his job in Thailand. (Dan Perez/TKS)

This year, 25 year-old Judd Pubpanon left his job as a tax lawyer in Thailand to come to Knox and study creative writing.

He first applied to Knox for his undergraduate degree and was accepted, but decided against going mainly for financial reasons.

In Thailand, he could go to law school without acquiring an undergraduate degree for about $1000.

Both he and his parents decided that was a much better deal than going to an American school for four years.

After finishing law school, he decided to apply to Knox again. While he had finished law school, he didn’t love it, and admitted to being lazy about his work. Classes operated in big lecture halls, and if the students did the reading before the final exam, they could pass the courses. He was looking for something a little more enriching.

He got in again, but decided to take a job that he was being offered as a tax lawyer at KPGM, an audit and tax advising firm, instead.

“I’m sort of okay with tax things, of all the law subjects I’ve studied, I’m okay with taxes. I didn’t totally like it, but it’s what I can do, and I’m pretty okay at it. But not passionately into it,” he said.

After two years of working at the company, Pubpanon decided to apply to American schools again. Some wouldn’t accept him as an undergraduate student, since he already had a law degree. Yet in Thailand, that doesn’t necessarily equate to an undergraduate degree.

However, he had applied to Knox for the third time and for the third time, he was accepted. It seemed like he couldn’t pass it up; he had heard Knox’s name for years in the creative writing scene, and had already applied two separate times prior. He had to go.

Pubpanon credits his decision to change his life to the book “Crossroads of Should and Must” by Elle Luna. The book discusses finding your true passion and following it, instead of thinking of what you “must” do. It was at this point that he decided he was going to go ahead and study creative writing in America, instead of sticking to his career path as a lawyer.

“The thing about plans, I felt like when I was in high school or in law school, I always set some expectation of what I’m going to be able to do, and what my career path should be, and I don’t know. It’s like I tried to set everything in order. I had to have a plan. … Eventually, when you come to achieve that plan, you might not really like it. It’s like the idea of having a plan is better than coming to achieve the plan yourself.”

Pubpanon enjoys writing realistic fiction, and hopes to take some creative writing classes before the end of the year. He admits that he’s happy to not be taking any English classes this term, as he is still getting used to discussion-based classes that require a lot of reading to be done every week.

His favorite books include “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “The Book Thief,” “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter,” and “The History of Love.” He enjoys reading across multiple genres.

Besides reading and writing, Pubpanon enjoys running. While he’s completed a half-marathon, he’d like to run a full marathon at some point. His dream would be to run in the Manhattan Marathon. He also enjoys cooking, but admits that the convenience of on-campus dining is too good to pass up.

“I blame the caf,” he said.

Pubpanon has never lived with other students before, but is enjoying living in a house full of upperclassmen Knox students, untraditional for a freshman on campus. However, Pubpanon is still older than all of his housemates.

Pubpanon doesn’t have any definite plans post-Knox, but finds comfort in that.

“I don’t know … have some idea of what comes next and then see what happens. Because you might change. I have changed. The thing about is it you never think you’re going to change, but then you change.”

Erika Riley, Editor-in-Chief
Erika Riley is a junior majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. During her sophomore year, she worked as a news editor, and during her freshman year, she worked as a layout editor. She is the winner of the 2017 Ida M. Tarbell Prize for Investigative Reporting and the recipient of First Place Front Page Layout from the Illinois Press Association in 2016. Twitter: @ej_riley

Tags:  international students judd non-traditional students student profile

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