Belle: A Scholar's Life














Pertama-tama sekali aku mahukan kamu semua tahu bahawa aku melihat semua elemen dalam hidup ini berselitkan falsafah di sampingnya. Begitu juga dengan kehidupan sebagai penuntut ilmu, lebih spesifiknya pelajar yang ditaja oleh badan-badan tertentu. Diingatkan, aku sendiri bukanlah pelajar tajaan yang meletup-letup keputusan peperiksaannya, cuma ini sekadar artikel masa senggang dan sedikit sebanyak aku yakin akan menggambarkan kehidupan & pengalaman aku sendiri sebagai seorang scholar.


"Untunglah, dapat scholarship! Mesti budak pandai." Ini ayat cliche yang keluar masuk telinga seorang scholar. Dengar macam ayat yang tak begitu serius makna di sebaliknya, tetapi bagi aku, sebaliknya. Aku akan meleraikan satu-persatu pandangan aku terhadap kehidupan pelajar tajaan ini dengan sedikit falsafah binaan aku sendiri. Terpilihnya tiap-tiap satu dari kita untuk menjadi pelajar tajaan bukannya bererti kita boleh tidur dengan buku berbantalkan duit empat angka. Tetapi ini ialah amanah, yang harus kita pikul setiap hari - ke kuliah, bukan sekadar memikul buku bersendiri. Amanah untuk membelanjakan wang yang telah diperuntukkan untuk setiap satu dari kita - pada aku, tak semua mampu meletakkannya ke atas dua belah bahu dengan stabil. Rata-rata orang luar melihat kelebihan memegang biasiswa ialah salah satu bentuk bantuan kewangan daripada pihak lain. Itu sekadar definisi di permukaannya sahaja. Namun aku melihat itu sebagai amanah untuk kita tidak mensia-siakan wang berkepuk dari mereka - seharusnya kita tujukan apa yang diberi orang kepada apa yang diharapkan orang. Dengan erti kata lain, segala perbelanjaan belajar (diulangi, perbelanjaan belajar) ialah satu-satunya perkara yang boleh dibelanjakan menggunakan wang amanah itu tadi. Dan tidak semua dari kita-kita ini benar-benar faham dan akur dengan perkara ini. Penganugerahan biasiswa pelajaran juga, simboliknya sebagai satu penghargaan - dari pihak luar kepada kita. Kerana ilmu itu satu-satunya kunci kemajuan sesebuah komuniti - biasiswa juga dianggap pendorong untuk kita terus belajar. Bukan semua mampu lakukan apa yang kita usahakan dalam pelajaran, dan bukan semua dari kita juga mampu lakukan apa yang mereka-mereka yang lebih pandai itu telah usahakan. Kerana itu, wujud perbezaan di mana sebahagian kita menerima biasiswa pelajaran ke luar negara, sebahagian lagi di dalam negara sahaja. Namun pada aku, kedua-duanya boleh dibanggakan - masih digelar pemegang biasiswa. Itu pun pernah aku saksikan ada segelintir yang memberontak tidak setuju dengan biasiswa yang diberi. Aku tak tahu di mana hilang rasa bersyukur dan berterima kasih mereka pada Tuhan dan pihak-pihak penaja ini. Ingat, bukan kita seorang dua sahaja yang layak mendapat biasiswa, tetapi kita masih berdiri di sini sebagai pemegang salah satunya. Fikirkan. Jika pihak lain menghargai usaha kita dengan wang ringgit, kenapa tidak kita hargai biasiswa dari mereka yang menghargai kita? Biasiswa juga merupakan satu pelaburan jangka panjang yang mengikat kita secara virtual. Aku melihat keadaan ini sebagai suatu gambaran yang positif - berjaya meletakkan hidup kita di dalam situasi di mana kita takut untuk tidak fokus dalam pelajaran -- khuatir kalau-kalau keputusan peperiksaan tidak memuaskan pihak penaja dan perlu membayar semula perbelanjaan belajar sebelumnya. Aku akui perjanjian yang aku tandatangani dengan pihak penaja bunyinya mengerikan - seolah-olah hilang nyawa jika biasiswa disekat dan dihentikan. Tetapi itulah yang menjadi pendorong paling kuat untuk kita berada di atas laluan yang betul. Percayalah, tiada pihak yang melabur untuk sesuatu yang dijangka akan merugikan. Bermakna kita-kita ialah pelajar yang terpilih untuk melunaskan janji pihak-pihak ini untuk membangunkan negara. Istimewa sungguh kelebihan yang diberikan. Dan kita di pihak yang kedua, sepatutnya berusaha untuk tidak menghampakan mereka-mereka yang bergunung harapannya kepada kita, untuk menuntut ilmu selagi terdaya. Aku mahu mengakhiri artikel pendek yang kurang formal ini dengan sebukit sokongan dan segunung harapan kepada kumpulan-kumpulan penerima biasiswa tahun ini dan seterusnya - supaya tidak mensia-siakan erti penganugerahan biasiswa itu dalam hidup masing-masing. Peluang ini sebaiknya digunakan secara maksima untuk kita-kita menyinar dalam bidang pelajaran yang kita-kita mahukan. Bersyukur dan hargai semuanya dan aku doakan kita-kita semua akan menjadi yang terbaik selepas kamu semua selesai membaca artikel ini. 



Jiunn Wen: A Scholar's Life



         














            The life of being a scholar in Uniten was not easy for me. I have a poor mastering of English, totally illiterate in computer usage and have weak stamina. The period of studying for the SAT and TOEFL in my first trimester really pulled me off, terms like “SAT words”, “Toefl Integrated Speaking” and “Toefl Listening” always swinging in my mind. The experience was very terrible.

After the terrific first trimester, the second nightmare came. That time was the US colleges’ application. During this period, I had to think of the title of the application essays and tried my best (in yet poor language) to write it out. In addition, many documents such as resume, high school result transcript and teachers’ evaluations had to be prepared (in between still have to study for Foundation subjects). For those universities which require an interview, the scholars even have to work harder. Luckily with the helps from my friends and counselor, I survived the transition period.

For third trimester, I still cannot escape myself from the “busyness”. I joined the Chinese debate team and was involved in the preparation for the debate competition at Tun Hussein Onn University. My teammates and I can barely sleep more than 5 hours each day (sometimes even worse) during the preparation (also have to cover for the Foundation subjects). Try to imagine what kind of life it was as a scholar.

However, every time when I think back of these terrific memories, I smile. I smile not because I was driven mad by these memories but I felt “excited” of what I did throughout the year; it was like roller coaster, frightening but exciting. I experienced something that I never or seldom do before: immersed myself in English, went through a long yet troublesome college application, got to know my personalities and targets  better as well as prepared for a debate competition. But most importantly, I did all of these with my teammates, my partners, my friends. We burned the midnight oil together, hang out together, made blunder together, got scolded together, gave motivation to each other along the way and etc. These were the terrific yet precious memory that will accompany me in my coming life in US. 

I still remember the first day I came to Uniten, knowing nothing about what the university would be, looking everyone and everything as strangers. But now, I make friends with these strangers and appreciate what the university has offered me till this moment as I just came back from my first time visit to the swimming pool in the campus. From introvert, I became willing to speak, and I believe I can be better with these memories.
      
Albert Stewen Tan Jiunn Wen | MIT-Massachusetts Institute of Technology(Class of 2015)

Norleen Lowrans: Life as a scholar












No, she’s not a born-genius, neither is she gifted with strong photogenic memory. No, she’s not brave nor has a lot of confidence in her but she willing to learn, to try new things, to explore, and test her limits. Like others, she too has dreams. Dreams about how she wants to color her future, passions, and main goal in life. Blessed she is, she’s one step closer to her ultimate dream as money constrain is now out of the topic because she earned a scholarship. Pursuing her studies to the States opened thousands of doors for her. The States is like a sea of enormous creatures and she’s just a tiny fish with a fear that she’ll get engulfed by the big ones.

She also knows that a lot awaits her in America; culture shock, racism, dangers, temptations, stress and precious knowledge ready to be learnt. No matter how hard she strives to defend herself from the enemy, she realizes she can’t do it alone. The main lesson learnt during her time in foundation, is friendship. The unbreakable bonds built from love, respect and trust. A friend once told her that the strongest force is neither the hydrogen bond nor diamond's strong covalent bonding nor even nuclear bond. It’s the unbreakable bond of true love shared by two individual, be it a friend’s or a mother’s love. They stood beside her in good times and in bad times. They helped her face her fears and encouraged her to take up challenges. They also accepted her weakness and ignored the fact that she’s a minority. Equality was often prioritized and she fits in perfectly like the rest of the jigsaw puzzle. 

Coming to UNITEN has taught her to toughen up, increase her thirst for knowledge, and grab opportunities when it comes. It’s the people in UNITEN that changed her perspective of life. Originated from a background which never emphasis on the importance world issues, social justice, or impact of history and scientific breakthroughs. Friends in UNITEN helped her to view the world in a whole new dimension. Every day she discovers new facts of life and insights, thus, expanding her horizons. This gave her a chance to have intellectual discussion.

As a scholar, of course, there are many academic and discipline requirements to fulfill and expectations to uphold. William Shakespeare said “expectations are the root of all heartache”. True enough because when there are expectations, there’s the fear of becoming a disappointment and then stress and excessive worrying comes rolling in. Boy, was it hard to uphold JPA’s requirement. There were countless times when sleep was the ultimate sacrifice and coffee was only company at night. She had experienced falling off track a few times but that didn’t stop her. Life was never easy and she knows that. To gain something, she needs to earn it first.

Basically, life as a scholar was a never like a calm sea. There were moments when everybody’s brain were burned out with one exam after another and followed by organizing activities. Not forgetting the competitions participated in and talks where attendance was made compulsory, though it was very informative and beneficial. The girl mention earlier, well, that girl is me. To be honest, this journey that I set off on is just the beginning. I had my ups and downs but I learnt not to give up. I also learnt that juggling fun and study is not easy but it’s extremely crucial. My life as a scholar has been great and also very tough. It was a learning experience the whole way and I’m glad I made full use of it.

Florence Yuen: A Scholar's life


 Kursus                             : Sains
 Negara Pengajian           : Amerika Syarikat
 Program                         : Program Asas Kejuruteraan
 Tempat Pengajian           : University Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN)

UNITEN!!!??? Kejuruteraan????

What has it got to do with science course? And why UNITEN but not INTI??

Yes, initially that was in my thoughts. Although UNITEN is nearer to my home, INTI is much better in terms of science courses. UNITEN is an engineering school!! I am supposed to study science NOT engineering!!!

I started to weigh the pros and cons. If I reject the scholarship, I need to continue my matrix course, which I seriously dislike and I can only further my studies locally in the future.  But if I accept it, I can go overseas!!! AND receive monthly allowance. Obviously, the pros win!!! So, I accepted this once in a lifetime opportunity. I followed the current and went with the flow.

First semester was torturous. Classes are expected to be from 8 am to 7 pm with only an hour break!!! Can you imagine that? When my seniors told me that, my jaw literally dropped. That was what really happened. And not forgetting that I have Saturday classes too. With all the finals, TOEFL and SAT exams coming at the end of the semester, your life will only revolve around your study table.

English classes lasted for hours a day. SAT Writing. SAT Critical Thinking. TOEFL Writing. TOEFL Listening. TOEFL Reading. TOEFL Speaking. (Unlike Science and Math, Language is not a subject that I master…. till now) And of all these English classes, it is the SAT Writing class that I feared the most. I need to complete an essay of 250 words in just 25 minutes!!! Nevertheless, it is this class that impacted me the most. It wasn’t just a writing class; it was a philosophy of life class. In this class, I learned many lessons and guidelines which I can rely on when I am in times of hardships. It’s no fun telling you what I have learnt. The fun part is you must figure it out yourself. You must extract the meaning behind the words, understand them. And don’t just treasure them deep down in your heart, practice them!

As time goes by, thanks to the SAT Writing classes, I realize that no matter which university that you attend, it is the experience and journey that counts. It is how you utilize the time you have spent there. It is the priceless knowledge that you have gained from the experienced lectures. It is the new bonds that you have created with your peers and lecturers; some may even turn out to be closer than those formed in high school. But of course, don’t forget the old bonds formed. They are the ones that shaped you into who you are today.

During classes, you get to listen to the lecture’s life story. How he survived studying abroad in Oxford years ago. How her schooling life was with the nuns back in her days. You get to listen to lame and cold jokes too. According to En. Rahim, my Physics lecturer, the formula for circumference is “squirrel r”. The whole class went “HUH???” “Betullah”, he said. Squirrel. Tupai. 2π. Hahaha!!! Lame right?? You also get to learn breathing techniques too!! This technique works extremely well to avoid sleepiness after lunch breaks. Thanks to Madam Ong, my SAT Writing lecturerJ.

Last but not least, you will meet various kinds of people in university. Lecturers which are strict in marking. Tutors which are always helpful nearing exams, giving tips!  Friends with have profound perspectives on world issues, philosophies of life and politics. Don’t be surprise, when in the middle of nowhere, in one corner of the class, there will be an intellectual discussion or debate going on. You can expect all imaginable topics to be discussed. Though, I gained a lot from the discussions just by listening. You will also meet friends whom you don’t click with and can talk non-stop for several hours. Just keep in mind that these people are humans too. Don’t expect them to be perfect because humans are not perfect and they make mistakes. When they do, remember this and it will be easier for you to let it go and forgive them.

So, this is my life as a scholar. It is not defined by which university you go to, which course you are going to major in or how many digits will be on your paycheck once you graduate.  It is defined by the journey which you have been through and the experience that comes with it. Just as Dons Williams Jr, said, “The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”

Florence Yuen Sook Kuan | University of Washington, Seattle(Class of 2015)

Jun Yi: A Scholar's Life











I remember the great expectations put on me by my parents and relatives to ensure that I would stand out from the rest. My mother had a vision for me and she would remind me from time to time about it; my father talked less but when he spoke, he really gave me the freedom of thoughts and soul-searching. Sooner that I had imagined, I entered my mother’s vision with the wings of freedom that my father had given me- I had successfully become a JPA scholar and I was on my own since then.

Excitement is natural to me when it comes to new experiences. As a fresh scholar, I was amazed by the diverse personalities, abilities and experiences which made fellow scholars who they are. Looking back to the old pictures from the first day I entered my college, I am not surprised that I and fellow scholars had changed a whole lot. Basically, new experiences changed us and it was from them that we had grown. I befriended my first roommate; I tried to become a leader of a diverse group of people; I started to burn midnight oil; I sang on the stage for the first time in the Talent Night; and I faced the death of my hero. There had been genuine happiness and real disappointments in these new experiences, but I took the courage to make the best out of them. Sometimes, a scholar needs to be very independent; sometimes, good friends would just come around and say: “lean on me”. Whatever it takes, I always believe in hope and courage.

Some people might think that scholars are role models from every aspect, but aren’t scholars humans as well? And as humans we must have our own weaknesses, right? As for me, I have to admit that I am not a highly articulate and sociable person, yet. Very often, a voice in me would say that I am fixed in certain ways: that I could never speak to convince and never wise to organize. To break away all the chains, I love to go against the river flow. You know the feeling of wind blowing against you as you speed ahead? That’s how good it feels! Whenever a voice in me said that I couldn’t do this and that, I would doubt it and challenge it. Certainly, there were many times when I failed, swallowed bitterness and wondered if I deserve the title of a “scholar”. But then, to overcome failures would make me a better person and indeed, a striving scholar. Success comes in between trials and failures.

Maybe some people are wondering, why am I not sharing on my academic learning? Well, I am sure it is pretty much as expected by many people. I relied on enthusiasm, discipline and consistence to learn effectively. Whenever I felt lagging behind in the classroom, I would call out for the mentioned elements. Well, to me, what make up my educational experience are really the people who educate me and learn with me. I am so grateful to have had some of the most interesting and knowledgeable lecturers. Their wisdom, humor and knowledge truly inspired me to keep improving myself as a holistic human being. And yes, I found the greatest friends that never could be found. What most important that I had learned from my friends are not to stereotype people and cherish the different talents and capabilities among ourselves. I truly can’t imagine a future when children study from home in front of computers. You need friends to get yourself educated properly. My friends taught me not only Physics, Calculus and Chemistry, but also sincerity, determination, love and happiness.











Gratitude is another important driving force which keeps me looking forward for what lies ahead. I thank God for my life, for the beauty of nature, for the ability to dream, for the gift of a family, great educators and friends, and for countless possibilities and opportunities. Indeed, I believe gratitude towards what I have in life will boost my spirit and expand my vision of a bright future as a scholar. As Mahatma Gandhi once said: “live as if you will die tomorrow; learn as if you will live forever.”

Allen Lian Jun Yi | University of California, Berkeley(Class of 2015)

Billy Hoo: today’s Thoughts, tomorrow’s Reminiscent of yesterday‘s Past


i vow,
For while i’m away i shall remember Thee,
And Thy Smile as i sit under the Autumn’s Tree. 
For I know Thou art with me as i count the Falling Leaves,
And all the Laurels and Vines Thee have grown with me. 
For some i deem We shall let it be,
And shall Time forgive and make it be.
For i shall pray for Thee alike Thee shall pray for me,
And Blessings shall He bestow upon me and Thee.
For if a tomorrow Thee shall need me,
Seek the lines above and below for my Love is first for Thee.

The pieces of words arranged above sum up my Time in UNITEN. Have it not been that fateful call on that particular Saturday morning which my Dad was hesitant to answer at first, I would not be in UNITEN and I would not be sitting by my table on this nostalgic night writing my thoughts here. And I must really say that, for the past two years or so (since I did not fly first year) there is not another place that I would want to be at other than UNITEN. Nay, I do not believe this attachment towards this second home called UNITEN applies on me only, but it also does apply to every single one of you my friends. Keep the memories here in UNITEN and reminisce them like you’re rewinding a tape while you’re in the US, my friends.

Yesterday’s pasts, when one look back at them, he or she shall laugh at the silly things he or she has done. One particular silly-ness that I often laughed at myself when I look back is when I addressed Mdm Faridah as “kak” at the registrar instead of “Mam”or “Puan” and yes I got my first lecture from her on the first day I registered at UNITEN. “Uh-oh”, I told my mum; I got screwed!

UNITEN is like no other. Never had I thought that I would grow so attached to it and most importantly the people in UNITEN. I must say that we students are blessed to have Granddad Pak Ariff , Our mothers Pn Faridah and Ms Gwen and our daddies Mr Chong and Mr Yu Jin  and they are the ones along with many others  that have made UNITEN or particularly IKAL  or CFGS now , a home to all of us. The time we spent together with them along with the memories we shared with them is priceless and more importantly their teachings and words of wisdom passed down to us, we shall never forgo them. Every bit of joy, every bit of laughter and perhaps every bit of anger too (cause sometime I believe we drive them mad), I must say is irreplaceable.  Nonetheless, like they say that there shall be a parting to every meeting ; we may be leaving but I am sure our heart and soul will always be with you guys  (Mr Chong , don’t cry cause I know you’ll have to say bye-bye to your Yang-Yang ,Bing-Bing and Wee-Wee ) .

Miss Gwen especially has been like a mom to me, or in fact she’s like a mum to everyone also, I believe. I for one love the conversations I always share with her on academics, our interest in Marx and especially some of my personal issues. She’s always been there for me and all of us in assisting our university applications and at most time, she helped us at the expense of her own personal time. Such efforts that were given light by the truest of all hearts and the purest of all motivation can only come from our one and only Miss Gwen.
Good times, Ma’am, shall come and pass,
When it clocks the 25th we shall bid farewell.
Eve, there shall come a day we see and sit again,
N’ that will be the day we laugh and smile again.

Since our first days here in UNITEN many things happened and I must say, scandals, also a lot. Many of these involve our friends around us but there is one perhaps also involve our purpled haired sister and that cute computing mister.  I must say, from an economist point of view, there is a boom of emotions around us. Love is in the air; suddenly this person is with that person and suddenly that person is with this person. Everyone is with someone, and someone is with everyone (lol ).

Practically everyone is an interest to someone, or else, our sister K***** from section 3 would not be gossiping about everyone with any other everyone (Ps. She’s going to Washington, so Seattle, be careful). And yeah, there are even some rumors that tend to be true stories that caught my attention. These beautifully crafted match-made-from-heaven stories come in forms like a miracle moment in Broga Hill or of stars flying in the sky while playing a game of poker or by having french fries as lunch together or even when some guy offer to drive a girl to buy refrigerator. Still, these are the stories worth mentioning over and over again. You’ll never encounter such stories anywhere else.

It is indeed that throughout our time in UNITEN, there are some bad times too.  Altercations among ourselves , bad results , breakups , university rejections , failure to fly first year , BAD SAT results  etc etc but these are often the part and parcel of growing up and these are the experiences that make us better and stronger in the future. Many of us in fact if not all of us have grown a lot since our first day here in UNITEN ; some to the extent of straightening their hair or even some to the extent of getting a curly perm to their hair but yeah some also remain the same strawberry-shortcake as they were when they first come in.

So, like I have mentioned, altercations, there were a few, and some of them, I’m responsible for. Owing to the ego perhaps, reluctance to communicate and misunderstanding, these altercations grew bigger creating voids between souls and friendships thus disintegrate. Rarely that when a friendship goes to the extent of not communicating more than one year due to a silly altercation , it manages to patch back.  Rarely also that such a chance comes by that amends can be make to fix such a friendship and thus to make up the lost time, but I was given the chance to do so, and I believe I have taken it! Yearning a chance to make amends is always more difficult than protecting what you have.

Just to capitalize on this opportunity presented to me via this writing, I would also like to apologize to those perhaps whom I have caused discomfort both directly and indirectly via my speeches and doings throughout my time in UNITEN and for those who may also have caused discomfort in me via their doings and speeches, I also forgive you. Only by admitting and by forgiving and by accepting and letting go, one’s soul can be freed from inner pain and suffering. Road to inner peace can thus be achieved via this way. Every soul seeks to be happy; I too seek to be happy and I would also seek for you, my friends to be happy.  Never have I loathed you and I do hope that you never loathe me likewise. Et serons-nous amis?

Perhaps, friendships are the ones we often took granted for and because of this, altercations arise; but I must also highlight that I do share some true ones with some of my friends here in UNITEN. One of these or perhaps the most important friendship I have in UNITEN comes in the form of a friendship with a friend by the name of some ground vegetable and yes, you guessed it , it’s Potato. To be honest, I would not have made it through my time in UNITEN especially with my emotional setbacks I experienced in UNITEN if it is not her who stood by my back helping and lending her aid most of the time. And I have yet to mention her enormous help that she put in, in the projects that I have conducted: The Carey Island Community Service Project and The World Peace Forum 2011. “Thank you, Pot! I really really owe my time in UNITEN to you“. Only you understand me, Potato.

Friends, among the crazy ones around me are like Badrishah , Iqbal and Colin ; they are the craziest and the best housemates I can ever get. Roommate Colin may sleep like he’s dead but he is the fastest on the field and court , plays badminton like he’s showing magic while Bad is always the best on the dance pad ( He likes Gundam like I do too ) and yeah, Bal will always be on Tagged getting numbers from chicks. I have to say though that we do not have the cleanest of all the apartments (but not the dirtiest too), I still have them as the best companions in my domestic life in UNITEN. Ever thought of something crazy? ; go to them and they will just pop some crazy idea out such as to go to Bagan Lalang in the middle of the night and thus off the car goes.  Not to forget my lovely classmates who are crazy themselves that they will always come out with the greatest ideas when it comes to lunch, dinner and travel. Do you remember the times when we spent in I-City , Sg Chua Sportscenter , Sekinchan , my hometown Klang and especially the times when we spent at Broga Hill , Pangkor , Cherating , Penang , Genting and  Sabah ? ; I for one remember all those lovely times and those were the greatest of times. So to speak, these are the memories I shall bring with me to UNC; you are all the best of friends.

But yeah there are too many friends for me to speak of in this writing ; Kaness my  half brother who would be there for me when I need him ; Melwyn and Daryl the ever inspiring juniors ; Jun Kit the badminton and DOTA pro ; Ilyas and Azri : Ratata and Snorlax ; Jung Kian the crazy presentation shooter and also one of the best clubber I’ve known , Kok Bin the womanizer ; there are just so many other friends I can talk about but I do not have the liberty of writing them in this writing.

Yes, it is time for me to finish this writing. And I would like to wish everyone all the best for the times ahead and thank you for making our times together in UNITEN the best time of our lives yet.

Et it’s time to bid good bye , farewell ! 



Billy Hoo Yi Rong | University of North Carolina(Class of 2015)

Jung Kian: A Scholar's Life















I once thought everybody’s life was pretty simple, simple as mine. I went to a kindergarten, went to a primary school; attended a high school and a college. I thought that was what everybody would go through because my mommy said so. I remember the time when I collected my exam results the next day after I got out of National Service, a period which I had no worries for nearly four months. The number of A’s on that thin little piece of paper was definitely unexpected. The joy filled from the bottom of my heart rushed to the top of my face. With a bunch of friends, we put on the smile for the success achieved together. But little did I know that we were actually the cream of this year’s exam candidates across the country.

Maybe I grew up and studied in a state’s top school, where everybody always did better than me, I had never thought of my future, as a scholar; only thought of my future as a college student, and studying in a local university was always my dream. I tried to apply only to a scholarship, not knowing how far this could bring me, but I knew that was going to be my future. I was filled with confidence and without much surprise, a few months later, I got it.

Following the honor from Public Service Department with a ‘scholar’ title, I felt proud and egoistic. I thought I deserved spending the taxpayers’ money for my education. I found out later most of the friends who put up the broad smile in front of the journalists together did not get the same that I got. They deserved better, but there were just me and a few others. The system was ruthless and cruel but I couldn’t help it. I knew I just had to mind my own business.

A lot of people understand securing a scholarship is the end of a stage of life, but they seldom look at the beginning that comes right after the end. A scholar’s life has got no difference from that of any other student, except that scholars borrow money for education from the taxpayers or an organization. Some borrowed so much that they’ve to become slaves for six to ten years to repay the debt. Nevertheless, a number of those who borrow the money and titles refuse to be enslaved.

It was a time of change for me. Throughout the years, I understood that the one who got the better chance held greater responsibility. Spiderman definitely has to take the credit for reminding me this: With great power comes great responsibility. It is now responsibility of us, commonly known as scholars, to do our best and contribute to our nation, the people and the next generation of the people who paid for our education in any way we could.

As a 2-year-old scholar, I’m already middle-aged. So allow me to give you a piece of advice. Life’s short, and you’re lucky to have the financial hassle and burden taken away from you during the best years in your life. Do not be arrogant, never try to be conceited. Do something worthwhile in your life, something you love and something that keeps you awake at night (I ain’t talking about DotA). And do it for the people and the country anticipating your success.  

Lastly, you lose half of my respect for you when you say you want to work solely for money. You lose another half when you will work solely for titles and fame. Those things could be the by-products of your success but they could never be the essential thing. They will let you forget your dreams and lose your conscience. My respect might be worthless to you, but it’s priceless for me. This is not only a reminder to you, but also to me, that there was once an enthusiastic self who would work hard and strive for passion. This guy might lose his way in the future but if you ever come across this piece and still recognize the author, no matter how much effort it takes, remind him of this. Thank you in advance.



Ng Jung Kian | University of Southern California(Class of 2015)

Alvin Fred: A Scholar's Life












Honestly, I do not have any exact answer of how is it feels to be a scholar. Rather, it is more about how am I doing in adapting college’s life, particularly in UNITEN. The first time I entered this university and joined the PPOU group of College Of Foundation and General Studies, I was kind of worried the fact that I came all the way from Borneo and used to lived in a closed community. However, once I started the course it was going well. With all the good lecturers and amiable people that I met I instantly felt like home.

The good thing of being a scholar is that you got to enjoy your college’s life without worrying too much on money. I have to say that it was my purpose of applying JPA scholarship because I think my old man has sacrificed a lot in financing my study for what I can recall. So, I think it is about time I need to ease them from that burden, and with all the blessings that God gave to me, I was chosen as one of the scholars.

Getting back to college’s life, it is indeed far different from what I experienced at my high school. Here, I need to do almost everything on my own from the money budget till the time management. Like I said, they are almost the same like everybody else’s. However one thing that is for sure, that knowledge doesn’t come to us, rather, we have to find them or experience them personally and only then we are able to adapt better in the college’s societies.

Looking back after a year of being as a scholar in UNITEN, it was a life-changing experience I must say. Now I know how it is like to rush on the assignment as it was due in few days time, or to deal with lecturer that constantly changes in moods and still, they are the ones who will be deciding our final grades, or to be a stronger and more assertive person towards temptations and so. These are precious experiences that I am sure will be needed once I pursue to the next stages-which is studying in the United States, getting my degree, and chasing my long-life ambition of becoming a great forensics in the near future. 

Alwin Tan: A Scholar's Life














It was after my Chemistry examination that I checked my results of my PSD scholarship application. I was too nervous to check the outcome of the application before my exam, afraid that it might affect my performance of my examination. Either way, I’m still happy and grateful for that outcome.

The feeling of being acknowledged as a scholar is just beyond description. It was one of the turning points in my life and is a stepping stone for me as I seek to pursue my ambition to be a renowned economist in this social science field. Turning points – because I was given the opportunity to mingle around with other scholars as well; stepping stone – because I am granted the privilege to study abroad and seek more knowledge and exposure.

But that was just not what the scholarship has given me. It was way beyond the “free” education that it provides. The circle of friends and the close-knit relationship between counselors, lecturers and students were the ones that I value most in this scholarship. The chance to be in the same class with my classmates for three semesters is clearly difficult to be achieved. Some of us manage to forge such close friendships to the extent that we call ourselves the ‘A’ Family. Aishwariya, Ainil and Ayu, thanks for the wonderful memory you have given me.

And then, there was the chance to mix with people of different races and religions, to understand the other races’ culture as well as to learn some colloquial Malay. (Main, bonggol etc. :P) Not forgetting as well the opportunity to experience the life of living in a hostel. My roommate, Allen, (he’s practicing for his performance now as I write this down. :D) has continuously given me free entertainment in terms of singing. It’s like watching American Idol live in Amanah, just that he’s the only candidate in this reality show. My housemates, LCD and Alvin.. FUHH never fail to make me laugh. Then, the ability to shout to the occupant living below like nobody’s business is enjoyable too. Ohh, besides Allen’s singing, I get to listen to Daryl playing his piano too. Haha, how awesome that is! I guess Chin Hui should be used to it by now.

So that’s basically a snippet of the life of a scholar. Yes, we need to live up to the high expectation on us, but the incentives are all that are listed above. My dear PPOU Section One 2010/2011 classmates, thank you for making this academic year so memorable. And to other PPOU students, you rock too! Let’s conquer the States soon too. Keep in touch!

Thanks for everything, everyone. :)



With love,
Alwin Tan Wee Giat



Alwin Tan Wee Giat | University of Washington, Seattle(Class of 2015)

Monica Ashwini: Life as a scholar











 “Congratulations darling!”Say’s Mum with a huge beam on her face as dad glows with pleasure. I, meanwhile, can’t help feeling a little queasy and nervous. Just a few moments ago, I was notified that I managed to bag the overseas PSD scholarship.

I know that I should be over the moon with happiness and all that, but already my shoulders feel heavy with the responsibilities that are bound to follow now that I am a scholar. Well, that was how I felt 12 months ago really.

Today, having graduated from the Foundation program in UNITEN, I have a different view as a PSD scholar. Granted, I was never wrong when I thought that as a PSD scholar, the responsibilities would pile up over time but honestly, I enjoyed my time as a scholar, in UNITEN at least.

Imagine yourself in a class of super-smart students from all over Malaysia. These students are also scholars and obviously, one’s ego is at test here. I was supremely nervous and worried that I would get “lost” among all these people labeled nerds. What if I don’t make it? What if I am the dumbest of them all?

It didn’t help that I am a natural worrier. Well, the lessons started off with a bang and initially all went well until it dawned to us scholars that there were SAT tests and TOEFL tests and Foundation tests round the corner. That was when all hell broke loose. The one thing that kept me sane and grounded was the fact that the friends I had pulled me through all the challenges and thanks to some of the super awesome thoughtful lecturers around (Ms Gwen!). There were times when I actually shed tears thinking I would never pull through and a simple hug from friends (Aish, Norleen!) would suffice to make everything seem better. The academic requirements set by the PSD were also stringent and I was extremely worried that I would not live up to them. So I guess the stress does get to you sometimes.

Moving on to happier moments, well it is interesting to note that however of a hellhole one’s life may seem at times, there is always room for fun and laughter. Owing to the fact that UNITEN is minutes away from shopping havens like Mid Valley, KLCC, the Curve and the likes, we scholars tend to take fun a little too over the top occasionally. Nonetheless, if one is not careful, the meager sum of money the PSD supplies will certainly disappear quickly if one is not wise in money matters.

All in all, I believe that life as a scholar benefited me greatly, what with all the experience gained and the ideas shared with peers. So sod the stress that comes with being a scholar, the fun part of it wins hands down!


Monica Ashwini | University of Washington, Seattle(Class of 2015)

Anonymos: US Apps Application Essay

                Instructions were given. Everyone got up from their sits to follow the instructions. It was a real buzz and hectic since the instruction was to combine all the cut-at-the-bottom water bottles into a very long chain, then later a number of marbles were supposed to flow through the chain of bottles without breaking the chain. I stood in the corner watching everyone rapidly combined all the bottles since the time was recorded. I didn’t know what else to do since everyone was gathering around the long chain of bottles and holding it tight, so that the chain won’t broke, while a very tall, Chinese guy let go of the marbles one by one.

                Seeing them, I wondered, how can they just work together as a team while not knowing each other. They were giving instructions to each other and helping each other out. It was as if they knew each other well already. Standing in the corner made me felt jealous of them as they can freely work together even though they didn’t know each other. Then I said to myself,” I want to be part of the team as well. I want to have the feeling to just talk to strangers and suddenly we were friends fulfilling a task.” I walked around to see whether there was any space for me to fit in to help; however, since I’m short and small, I just couldn’t bulge in like that because obviously I am going to get crushed by them and I would be like someone drowning in a pool of people.

                Then I went to the far end of the chain where the tall, Chinese guy was putting the marbles in the chain of bottles. I stared at him, he looked exhausted but then he was the only one who could reach the tall end. Then, I realized every face was tensed and tired. Their hands hurt as they held the bottles tightly and they had to squeeze between each other. All of a sudden, I just felt adrenaline rushed through my whole body and the energy rising in me, the energy whenever I got excited or anxious. Out of nowhere, I screamed and shouted for them not to give up. It just came out spontaneously. The tall, Chinese guy looked at me and smiled. I suddenly felt motivated, since I can’t help them out with holding the bottles or putting in the marbles, I could at least cheer for them.

                So I just went around them and just cheered for them, giving them courage and support. Some smiled, some annoyed, some ignored but that didn’t bother me because I, too, wanted to contribute something to the team and I believed that cheering for the team is important no matter how the conditions are. Finally, after all the marbles went through the chain of bottles, everyone was like breathing out of relieved and smiled to each other. Again, I stood in the corner and watched everyone as they were shaking hands, hugging each other and new friendships were blooming and in the room, everyone didn’t seem like strangers anymore. Some of them acknowledged me as well and thanked me for my enthusiasm. I just smiled from ear-to-ear and congratulated them.

                It was really an eye-opening experience as I realized that there are a lot of ways to contribute to a team, not only by being the main player or the manager. Being the cheerleader, the one who will never be dispirited is also a very crucial post needed in a team because whenever the team spirit is gone or they just feel discourage, that is where the cheerleader, me, came into the picture, giving them the spirit, the courage and the support they need. At least, they would feel that there is still hope and someone still have hope in them to succeed. Since then, I realized I had always had this enthusiastic and full spirit character of mine, looking back to all the memories, this was not the first time I suddenly have that ‘adrenaline rush’. It had occurred a lot of time without me realizing. Now that I realized it, I will always enjoy and love to go to any competition or anything that needs some cheering to simply support the team even though I am the only one cheering for them because that is me.


Editor's note: The author of this post does not want her name to be revealed. She applied to some US universities by using this application essay. We truly appreciate her effort to contribute to this blog for the reference of future incoming PPOU juniors. Copyright: Permission to use, copy, and modify this application essay is strictly prohibited.

Kavita Chandran: A Scholar's Life












America!!! Whoa my jaws drop the moment I saw on the screen that I was offered to further my studies in the United States. I am going to be a scholar. I was speechless and stunned that particular moment, my mum next to me was constantly being grateful because I was offered a scholarship. I started making preparations mentally and physically.  Eventually the day arrived where I was required to register myself in a university stated by my sponsors. Now I realize that I am going to be different compared to my other schoolmates who are also furthering their studies but they are not going to be a scholar like me. I am not meaning it in a way where I am down grading them and telling that I am better than them but a scholar’s life is definitely different compared to a normal student’s life.


As time pass by I get to meet a lot of other scholar’s just like me but they come from really different backgrounds. And when I mean different background they are really from different backgrounds. Some are from a mediocre family, rich family while some scholar’s just end up whining and not being grateful on what that they have received. One of the first things that I have to deal when I am called as scholar is that I had to learn to adapt with other people’s attitude and character. Besides that I had to learn to adapt with some of their cultures and customs since scholars are randomly selected from all over Malaysia.


For instance, in my class I had to deal with some student who is really sensitive. Some also want us to treat them just like the way they are treated in home. I also realized that some of them were really nice to me. They always complimented me and gave me support when I am down or never in a good mood. Meeting people from different backgrounds indeed made me a stronger person in reality because I learnt to adapt in this situation.  As a scholar I learnt to be an independent person. I learnt to do a lot of paperwork because my parents were busy most of the time and I live quite far away from home I had to settle it all by my own. I would say that it will be one of a plus point to be a scholar because I remembered way back at home I was so clingy that I gave everything to my dad to do all the work. Being a scholar has definitely opened my eyes in many other perspectives.


As a scholar I was also criticized by other students especially those with better SPM results saying that I stole their scholarship and that is why I will be flying overseas and they will be continuing their degree locally. Not only them some of them who are really not satisfied always mention that I am studying using the tax payers money and I should like “sedar diri” who I am. I would not say that their statement is wrong but asking us to realize who we are and constantly mentioning this statement really hurts me because my dad also pays tax too.


As a scholar there are always ups and down. So some of the great times I had were that I managed build a strong bond with other mates or commonly in a formal term known as scholars because we are asked to stay together and even study together in the same class so it was like we are all inseparable. All nice things do come to an end. During my third semester when I realized that I am going to leave my friend because some of them are leaving to the States  and studying all over United States while some opt to stay for another year. How unlucky could it be when one of them is my roommate. She chooses to stay for another year. As days pass by I noticed that we are really going to miss each other really badly. I noticed that when I whet for a camp as one of the pre-requirement to fly first year my roomie was screaming in excitement the moment she saw me back home after the camp. She also constantly reminds me that we need to take a lot of pictures as remembrance.  My life was good and I was asked to separate from my dearest roommate the girl who I can gossip with until late night, tell her all my secrets and tease her non-stop. And as I am writing this article my heart feels so heavy to actually leave the life that I have right now. But this is life and we need to move on in everything that we do. There are sometimes when we have to take different pathways in our lives.


I will not deny as a scholar your will rarely have financial constrain since we are given allowance on time, books are paid for us and tuition fee is also covered.  As for me since I stayed in Kuala Lumpur so my allowance was rarely touched because my parents still give me allowance and pay for my expenses in Malaysia. But for some of my scholar friends when they overspend they are unable to save their money and finish their allowance. So technically it all boils down to yourself in being smart and thrifty to control your money.


Being a scholar is definitely a privilege for me because currently I feel really grateful for what I have obtained so far. As I am writing this article right now there is only two more days left for me to complete my foundation and I might never ever meet my dearest roommate again or the rest of my friends whom I have made bonds and relationships with. This sounds really painful and indeed it is really hurtful. But deep down I really hope that I will be given a chance to meet up with them again.


Finally as for those who reading this article, here I am saying that I am really grateful to be a scholar and for future scholars out there remember to cherish the life that you will undergo in the future because it is indeed a really different experience and an experience that money can never buy. I repeat “money can never buy” that experience. For those kids out there who are ready to be called as a scholar be prepared to embrace all sorts of challenges in your future. I wish all of you good luck and I hope that someday it will be you are the one writing the same article.


Kavita Chandran | University of Washington, Seattle(Class of 2015)

Jorene Ooi: A Scholar's Life












“Congratulations. You have been offered a scholarship to study in the United States of America. Your foundation studies will be conducted in Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN), Putrajaya.”

I remember staring at the computer screen stupidly, partly in shock because I’m going to the States, and partly because I have completely no idea what, nor where, UNITEN is.

In the weeks to come, I would eventually find out that UNITEN was located somewhere between Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, and the middle-of-nowhere. I would learn that its campus was rather large (which made walking to class in the sweltering 40°C heat almost impossible), and that the buses provided to ferry students came late with an amazing regularity. Also, I would discover that my apartment was ridiculously dusty, which was bad news to my hypersensitive nose.















Orientation programs took up the majority of my first week here. I woke up at 5.30 in the morning, and didn’t go to sleep till midnight. To make matters worse, I contracted a bad case of food poisoning and spent two days in bed throwing up every other meal and generally feeling very sorry for myself.

In short, I got off to a rather miserable start in UNITEN. I wanted out. But the lure of having a childhood dream realized (I’ve always wanted to study in America) was too tempting to pass up.

So I stayed. Little did I know that over the course of one year, my perspectives of this place would drastically change. I wouldn’t quite say that I love the place just yet, but now that I’m a bit closer to leaving, I’ve found that it’s rather difficult to simply walk away.

Naturally, I’ve made many memories here. Just to show a few:







Ladies Night.














Last-minute party for Minako’s birthday.















Class outing to Mines.








When you ask me what I remember most of my time here, the answer wouldn’t be the long nights of studying for the finals. Neither would it be the 8am classes (I’m not a morning person), nor would it be that time when I got reprimanded for showing my shoulders.

No, dear sire. What I will remember most are the memories I’ve created with the people here, and the life lessons they’ve taught me. Granted, this college has served its main academic purpose of educating me, but I believe that the things I’ve learned here are far more than those from textbooks.















 Won’t be seeing these again!

I’ve learned that nothing comes easy. Talent Night was a shaky and emotional affair for all of us at Section03PPOU. Quarrels, clash of opinions, egos hurt – you name it, we’ve got it. Yet we got over it, and came together to win third place. If you ask me, that’s pretty good, considered the internal strife that went on!














I’ve learned that there are things that you can change. Throughout the year, I’ve watched my classmates and friends alike evolve into the people they are now. Wong is less of that awkward, nerdy Chinese guy than he was during orientation (although he still talks a lot on esoteric topics). Sanjeevi is actually speaking his mind a lot in class and having dinner with us (I’m still working on his pessimism). As for myself…. I’m more confident of myself, and I can solve my own problems now (no more mummy doing my dishes for me!). All this from a year of studying and hanging out with a diverse, intellectual and multi-talented bunch of scholars!


Wong no longer looks like this.

I’ve learned that things happen for a reason. When I got rejected by Columbia, I was devastated. But it gave me a push to actively pursue my passions. I remember telling them that I was interested in writing and human rights, but what did I do that could testify for that passion? Naught. So, in a way, that thin envelope gave me a wake-up call: don’t be those “all talk and no action” people.

Wake up!

Most of all, I’ve learned that when you give people enough time, their best will ultimately show. Time and time again, I’ve been amazed by the resilience and talents that my fellow students have exhibited. From organizing events (Sukan IKAL and Karnival SAAY1M just to name a few), to overcoming obstacles (getting into Brown and Cornell and whatnot), to making something out of nothing (hello, people who are starting this blog), my fellow scholars have demonstrated that there’s nothing you cannot accomplish once you put your mind to it.

So, yes, the buses still come late, the courses are still challenging, and the routine is still rigorous. But you know what? Somehow it was all worth it. My childhood dream is coming true, and I’m learning lessons that I will remember forever, and I’ve made lifelong friends. This life is pretty awesome after all.

                                                       An incredible and talented community.




Jorene Ooi | Northwestern University(Class of 2015) She described herself as the musings of a self-confessed part-time student, full-time slacker.

Daryl Yong: A segment of a PPOU scholar’s perspective


















To those who will be,
And to those who have been.
Law dictates that time flies,
That becomes relateless in relative to the Milky Way,
We cannot turn time that is for sure,
But we can be the pilots who man time.

The end of the road is in sight. The door to another exciting path lies ahead. Isn’t it amazing that a year has passed so fast? From the clueless people we were, to the now hopefully better persons we are, time has indeed left its mark on us. However, let us take a moment to reflect; as a soul without reflection, like a pile without inhabitant, to ruin runs.
Of the many experiences that we have went through, I believe nothing comes first than the people whom we have been with. For it is these people that makes us who we are and what we do. Dear friends, do not underestimate the importance of relationships. We did be surprised if we looked back and see how our friends and teachers have influence us in ways we could not have imagined. We did be surprised if we take a moment and recall the help they have given - be it helping each other with essays or exams, sharing moments of vulnerability, or even celebrating each other’s achievements. Hence, take this opportunity to remind yourself to keep in touch and to fortify the bonds that shackle us.
Wretchedness, sorrow, joy and bliss; a multitude of feelings that had encroached upon us time to time throughout our year-long journey. There were spells when we grieved for scores, grades and rejections. There were intervals when we felt we were defeated so terribly that there was just no way back. Yet, there were also instances when we exult for letter of acceptance, excellent results and expectations met. Yes, some of us might have just felt one, or two or even neither, but life is never the whole shebang of successes. In this matter, it's not whether you get knocked down; it's whether you get back up. And there lies the beauty behind every one of us. Throughout my time in UNITEN, I have seen the strength that made us scholars. I have seen the potency that made individuals chose us. I have seen the vigor that keeps us going when times were bleak. But beware; what we have withstood is likely to increase in its intensity. Prove your worth by rising up to the trials of life.
Dear friends, just becoming or having become a PPOU scholar is nothing to be proud of. Rather, it is the willingness of one to take on challenges and make meaningful changes that counts. My honest opinion would tell you that I believe all of us can alter the future. We have organized a conference, a carnival for orphans, competitions and whatnot. We have done what we thought we could have done. We have made changes. More importantly, however, we have the ability to dream of endless possibilities. But are we ready to take on these dreams and bring it to reality? After all, the only difference between an achiever and a dreamer is that the former walks the dreams.
Friends, let us believe that this ending is just a beginning to a greater story, one that will rock the world in time to come.  Let us have the inspiration to stand up tall, the ability to carve our path, and the knowledge to help our world. Let us never never never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never forget that in spite of all our successes to come, the essence in us scholars is our purpose in life.
What purpose? That is for you to decide.

Daryl Yong – He is a mature person with a childlike mind; a future economist who still likes to play DOTS. He is also a sporty guy who plays badminton and soccer smartly but not energetically. Pitiful guy who always fall down.

Daryl Yong | University of Washington, Seattle(Class of 2015)