This year Khyentse Foundation acknowledges a talented and inspiring young woman. Ms Sunisa Charoenpakdee received the Khyentse Foundation Award for Excellence in Buddhist Studies at the University of Sydney on the May 2, 2013, for her outstanding PhD thesis, which examines the complex issues around the validity of Thai bhikkhunī ordination, is an important contribution to the scholarship on Thai female monasticism.

Sunisa grew up in a Buddhist family in Thailand, but it wasn’t until she became an adult that she really embraced the Dharma. For Sunisa, her thesis is not purely an academic exercise — it addresses an issue in Thai society that she feels deserves more attention. Scholarship on Thai bhikkhunī ordination will help draw attention to the issue and will also give it credibility. Sunisa sees the dispute about the authenticity of women’s ordination as being both a social and a historical problem. Her academic training allows her to address the issues from an academic perspective, not just a social or political perspective, and to delve deeply into the Pali Cannon and Bhikkhunī Vinaya to present the historical evidence.

Sunisa considers it an honour to receive the Khyentse Foundation Award and feels that it will also bring honour to her family. She extends her sincere gratitude to Khyentse Foundation and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. She said that receiving the Khyentse Foundation Award is a testimony to the Buddhadharma because completing her PhD was at times such a struggle.

She is also grateful to Khyentse Foundation for recognising the importance of the academic study of Buddhism. She plans to donate the money from the award plus $500 dollars of her own money to help future students who are struggling to study Buddhism at the University of Sydney. She plans to continue her lifelong commitment to the academic study of Buddhism.