It’s Not too Late to Start
Suniporn Yotharak doesn’t let anything come between her and her goals and seeks opportunities to fit her priorities.
“No matter how old you are, no matter where you come from in this world, everyone can do it. It’s not too late to start anything,” said Yotharak.
Suniporn, also known as Sue, Yotharak came to Minneapolis College in 2010 after earning a four-year degree in her home country, Thailand. In her native country, she earned a degree in Property and Valuation.
Yotharak wanted to further her education and pursued a degree in Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas but soon found out it wasn’t the right fit. She decided to change programs and earn a degree in Restaurant Management at Minneapolis College. In December of 2016, she opened her own restaurant, Khun Nai Thai Cuisine, located less than 10 minutes from the College.
When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, Yotharak found herself reevaluating her career and how to balance spending time with her daughter as well as time at the restaurant.
“I have an eight-year old daughter. During COVID, I realized that I did not have time to spend with her at all. Mostly she has been sitting at the restaurant with me when I am working since she was three,” said Yotharak. During the pandemic, Yotharak’s daughter, Aleena, like most children wasn’t physically at school and was spending more time at home.
“During COVID, she didn’t go to school, she had to homeschool so I was at home with her. Now, we get to do more things together like baking. I love my job but I started looking for something different, something that has a set time so I have time for myself, time for my daughter and time to go to work.”
After talking with her friend who is a doctor, Yotharak decided she would like to become a nurse at a clinic. Since she felt supported while earning her Restaurant Management degree, Yotharak has returned to the College and is currently enrolled in its Nursing program.
“I like the way staff support students to be successful. They explained to me clearly what classes I should take. If you are struggling with anything or need daycare or a tutor they are very welcoming to you. They help you to do it,” said Yotharak.
“Suniporn (she goes by Sue in my classes) represents, to me, the best of what it means to be an Minneapolis College student,” said Michael Kuhne, Minneapolis College English Department faculty. “Working with Sue is actually quite a privilege for me. She works hard, she seeks and finds the support she needs, she manages her time exquisitely, and she does so with an exuberance that is contagious. She's come far, and she will go far.”
“I am a single mom and the thing that keeps me motivated to do this is my daughter,” said Yotharak. “She is very excited and tells everybody ‘my mom is going to become a nurse someday.’” The nursing student also mentioned her daughter supports her by staying quiet while she studies. “She will grab her book and start reading while I am doing homework.”
While achieving her goals is time consuming and challenging, Yotharak continues to persevere. “As a single mom and owner of a restaurant with 25 employees it is a lot, but now is the time. I just push myself. When you start, everyone around you is going to support you,” said Yotharak. “Before I thought I didn't know if I could do it or if I had time, but once I registered for class and when the semester started everything just fell into place. You have to break through the fear. That’s how I feel.”