Class of 2013 Alumna Opens Natick-Based Eatery Rice Theory
Will Sripakdeevong ’13 grew up in Bangkok. When she moved to the United States to attend Wellesley, she brought with her a passion for good Thai food. That passion and the education she received at Wellesley, she said, influenced her decision to open her own business soon after her graduation. Sripakdeevong is now the owner-operator of the new restaurant Rice Theory.
“What I learned at Wellesley was not a specific skill set, but a lifelong attitude and appetite,” Sripakdeevong wrote in an email. “Attitude—toward problems, being confident that any problems can be conquered if you try hard enough. Appetite—to keep learning, taking risks, and always throwing yourself in an unfamiliar territory. When I quit my job [to found Rice Theory], I was scared, but my experience at Wellesley taught me that even if I fail, I’ll take a step back and rebound.”
Located on Route 9 in Natick, Rice Theory serves fast-casual authentic Thai food created from recipes Sripakdeevong compiled. The restaurant recently earned a very positive review from the Boston Globe.
Sripakdeevong studied math and psychology at Wellesley, graduating summa cum laude. She cites her interest in psychology as one of the key reasons she wanted to open her own business. “The very first class I took at Wellesley, Social Psychology with Professor [Robin] Akert, actually shaped my experience in a very significant way,” Sripakdeevong said. “Professor Akert introduced me to consumer behavior, which led me do research and take a handful of Sloan MBA classes … then my interest in business grew from there.”
At Wellesley, Sripakdeevong was an active member of the Asian Student Union. She was also a TA, and took opportunities to conduct research and complete internships. When not working, studying, or volunteering, Sripakdeevong said she enjoyed discussing gender stereotypes in media with friends over s’mores (which she experienced for the first time during her first year) at the fire pit outside the Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center.
Sripakdeevong said the Wellesley community has been very supportive of her business venture: She has welcomed many alums into her restaurant, and has also collaborated with Wellesley’s food provider AVI Fresh to serve Thai classics like pad thai and tom yum soup in the Bae Pao Lu Chow dining hall on April 15.
– Katelyn Campbell ’17