PETALING JAYA: From being a nationally-ranked sharpshooter to singing in the glee club, all-rounder Malaysian cadet Saranjoe Sukcha is making waves at the United States Coast Guard Academy, where he is in his third year.
The Old Putera (alumni) of the Royal Military College said he was “shy, quiet and did not speak English well” when he first arrived in the United States.
Now, he proudly belts out sea shanties with the academy’s all-male collegiate a cappella ensemble – The Idlers – in between military training, classes and musical practice.
“For me, that’s my motivation. I sing, I dance, and I shoot,” he said.
Sukcha, 22, a Malaysian of Thai descent, wants to dive into issues such as drugs and terrorism after he graduates in 2019.
He is the fifth Malaysian to ever learn the ropes at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.
“I want to be able to use all which I have learned in the United States when serving in the Royal Malaysian Navy and also to assist the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency in solving issues like drugs and terrorism,” he said.
Sukcha is also among the selected few chosen to represent Malaysia at the United States’ prestigious service academies.
As the son of a nurse and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Malaysian Army, Sukcha grew up watching his parents serve the nation, knowing that was his destiny.
According to the United States Embassy here, he has established himself as one of the academy’s top cadets in terms of military standing in just two and a half years.
Sukcha, whose hometown is in Sungai Petani, Kedah, was a member of the cadet aviation programme.
He has also sailed across the Atlantic; studied the patterns of terrorist activities in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia; and helped locate victims during the Hurricane Irma relief efforts.
Life in the United States however, has not always been clear sailing for Sukcha.
“Being away from home is everyone’s biggest challenge but when my grandmother passed away in February last year, it had a huge impact on me.
“But then I have a lot of friends over there who treat me like a brother instead of just another student,” said the marine and environmental science major.
His friend’s family even prepared nasi lemak for him when he spent a holiday with them in Florida.
“They never tasted it before but they went through the trouble just to give me a taste of home,” he laughed.
Sukcha believes that the young should grab every opportunity that presents itself and not worry about the uncertainties of tomorrow.
“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s trouble but it takes away today’s peace. Always focus on the present moment and give the best you can,” he said.