Brighter future: (From left to right) Raja, Muhamad Khusairi and Mohamad Zulhelmie chatting with one another after taking their oath as USM students at the Dewan Tuanku Syed Putra in Penang.
GEORGE TOWN: Two heart attacks and a full-time job at the Penang High Court are no deterrent to R. Raja They Singh in his bid to get a university degree.
The 54-year-old was among 1,130 students who registered for Universiti Sains Malaysia’s distance learning programme.
The operations assistant said he wanted to pursue a degree as he was unable to do so during his younger days.
“I wanted to read law at Universiti Malaya but my application was rejected,” he recalled after the oath-taking ceremony yesterday.
“My colleagues encouraged me to apply for USM’s distance learning programme.
“I have a heart condition. Just two days ago, I had palpitations and was sweating profusely.
“I rushed to the Penang Hospital and was advised to rest.
“However, I will not let my health or any other setbacks discourage me from fulfilling my dream,” he said, adding that he would be majoring in political science.
Among those in the programme were two paraplegics – Muhamad Khusairi Abu Bakar, 32, and Mohamad Zulhelmie Juma’at, 24.
Muhamad Khusairi suffered a fall when he was four years old.
“I am really happy to be here. I highly recommend it to disabled students,” he said.
“The facilities here are very disabled friendly,” said the clerk from Bagan Serai.
Mohamad Zulhelmie, from Batu Pahat, said he applied for the programme following his doctor’s recommendations when he completed his STPM.
“My doctor recommended USM as it has a centre in Johor Baru where I can listen to the video lectures,” he said.
USM Vice-Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Omar Osman said there were more civil servants and private employees who applied for the programme this time round.
“Usually, the applicants are teachers.”