The journey of scholarship goes beyond receiving one. It involves the responsibility of the new scholar to maintain the scholarship, as accordance to the terms and conditions. This often includes achieving a consistent grade, being active in co-curriculum activities, and perhaps fulfilling a work requirement after completing your studies.
One of Yayasan Peneraju Pendidikan Bumiputera’s scholar, Ungku Zawir Athari has been studying Economics in The University of Manchester for close to 3 years. As his journey of being a scholar is nearing the end, he shares his experience of this life-changing journey of being a scholarship recipient.
Deciding what to study for degree
In the beginning, I am unsure of which course that is best for me and I am sure that most of the students after SPM feel the same way. To start with, I identified the courses that I do not want to pursue or does not suit me. This enabled me to narrow down my choices and to give an idea on the field of studies that I should consider. I started of wanting to do actuarial science as suggested by my relatives but during my college years, I began to grow passion for economics and this is what I am currently pursuing. Apart from going for the things you are passionate about, it is always good to know what to expect from the course that you are taking and be aware of the benefits and opportunities that would be available for you after you graduated. Do not be shy to seek advices from resourceful individuals as it will help you to see things differently. After careful considerations and research, be truthful to yourself in making the decision.
Preparing myself for the scholarship assessments
I have applied a few scholarships and have gone through few interviews and a group assessment. A few tips that I practice and are deemed useful:
- You should know yourself better before you go and sit for any of them. You need to know your weaknesses and strengths, so that you are aware of the things that needs improvement. Learn how to behave and to present yourself in front of people in a proper manner and make use of your strengths appropriately. An interviewer once said to me that they sometimes value your attitude more than your skills, because skills can be learned and polished but attitude reflects who you really are.
- Be fully prepared mentally and physically. Make enough practices by going to classes and asking advices from experienced individuals. Also, do not be afraid to go for as many interviews and assessment as possible as it will give you the experience needed and will increase your confidence. Do your research on the organisation and the programme that they are offering so that you know what is expected of you. I always believe that chance favors the prepared mind.
- For interviews, learn to stay calm and always give an honest answer. Never be afraid to present your thoughts and suggestions on issues that are questioned. You can ask questions in the end if you need any clarifications regarding programme and to show your interest. Besides that, learn and practice on how to deliver and present your ideas and answer coherently is also important.
- For group assessment, you do not necessarily need to stand out from the crowd. Be yourself and ask yourself how can you benefit the session. Again, be brave enough to put forth your argument and to offer your support. At the same time, be respectful and encouraging when other people gave theirs as well. In a group assessment, it is not about who is better than the others in terms of individual talent (they have other ways to assessed that), but more on how do you work in a group and how do you help achieving a certain task as a group.
My most challenging moment in university would be..
I experienced major depression during the first semester of my final year, right before my semester exam. It affects pretty much everything with my life. Realising that time alone would not be able to cure, I went out to seek counsel and went travelling with my friends. The important thing to keep in mind when we are facing difficulties is to try to stay calm. I always remind myself that every problem has its solution and it is essential that I try to put in the effort first to find it. Know that adversities in life are there to teach us how to be resilient.
The happiest accomplishment that fuels my motivation
I am grateful with all the achievements that I have accomplished until today but if I need to name one happiest accomplishment, it would be the opportunity given for me to study overseas and experience life as a student in the UK. This has been a motivation for me to keep striving for excellence and to expect more challenging things in life. Studying overseas right now is an experience that I will forever cherish.
What are your plans after graduation?
I currently look forward in starting my career at Axiata as I have been offered to join their graduate programme for two years.
What is your advice to the young generations who will embark in university soon?
Be positive and confident about yourself. Always aim to strive for excellence and put in the extra effort together with the right mindset. Be with people that will encourage you and help you to become a better person. For you to improve and to progress, never be afraid to take the bull by the horns. Lastly, always be close to God and be grateful even for the smallest things in life.
Shared by Ungku Zawir
Edited by Melanie Mok