Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia: Reflections from UKM alumni-turned-SMG editors


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  • Monday, 18 May 2020

Sarban Singh Ranjit (2nd from left), next to former Star Media Group reporter P. Bala Kumar, at their convocation.

For sons of a Federated Malay States Guide-turned-jaga, going to university was a big achievement for my twin and me. When those acceptance letters came – mine from UKM, my brother’s from a university up north – our hearts were filled with pride, joy and a bit of trepidation.

For the first time in our 20 years, we’d be separated from each other. our family and also our kampung. Fortunately for me, I would be closer to home. The UKM campus in Bangi was a 40-minute drive from my kampung in Seremban, though it also meant changing three buses to get home.

I remember feeling awestruck that first day in university. There I was, a gangly kampung kid, among a sea of freshmen from all over the country looking forward to varsity life. Little did I know then that in my four years at UKM, I would form lasting friendships with many of my batchmates from the class of 1992.

Sarban Singh Ranjit (3rd from right) with his UKM coursemates, including former Star Media Group reporter P. Bala Kumar (2nd from left).Sarban Singh Ranjit (3rd from right) with his UKM coursemates, including former Star Media Group reporter P. Bala Kumar (2nd from left).

University was a time for many firsts for me. I soon joined the Reserve Officers Training Unit, training under the scorching sun and pouring rain with my fellow reserve officers. I have fond memories of annual army camps, walking 4km for late suppers and participating in many activities on campus.

UKM prepared me for the working world and taught me to be self-reliant, resourceful and to think on my feet – attributes that I value today, especially in my line of work.

Many of my batchmates have gone on to forge successful careers in the private and public sectors, with one former classmate now a ministry secretary-general. Despite the passing years, we still keep in touch with each other via WhatsApp.

Time has flown so fast. It will soon be 30 years since I graduated from UKM with a degree in political science. Since then, UKM has grown in stature and is almost unrecognisable having expanded tremendously.

My university is today one of the country’s top research centres and I am proud I have walked through its hallowed halls of learning.

Sarban Singh Ranjit, Assistant News Editor, Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) 1992

Proud UKM graduate Rajes Paul on her convocation day.Proud UKM graduate Rajes Paul on her convocation day.

Entering UKM was an opportunity to realise a better future and a turning point in my life. For a girl without much experience from a rural area, UKM gave me the platform to be independent and confident.

Times were tough then. My parents were unable to support me, and my sisters had to assist financially in the little ways they could. Fortunately, I had a study loan to cover the fees. It was during this time that I made many good and kind friends who went out of their ways to help me. We are bosom buddies now.

There were several outstanding lecturers who were more than educators – they taught life values. I was inspired by a former journalist-turned-lecturer then, and I guess that's one of the reasons why I went into journalism.

Rajes Paul (back row, 2nd from left) represented her college Kamsis Aminuddin Baki in netball.Rajes Paul (back row, 2nd from left) represented her college Kamsis Aminuddin Baki in netball.

While I tried to balance studies and sports, I have to admit that I was quite mischievous. I did pull some pranks on my lecturers and friends.

Hosting events like cultural shows was special, and I won a poem recital. I also represented the university in netball for four years and was quite active in other sports activities too. Sports unite, and I saw this unity as we worked as a team.

May UKM continue to be a stepping stone for many aspiring youngsters to realise their potential and dreams. Congratulations UKM!

Rajes Paul, Sports Editor, Bachelor of Arts (English) 1997

Sujata V. Poobalasingam (2nd from right) and Esther Ng (centre) would go from working together on their campus newspaper to being colleagues at Star Media Group.Sujata V. Poobalasingam (2nd from right) and Esther Ng (centre) would go from working together on their campus newspaper to being colleagues at Star Media Group.

My best memories of UKM were of my final year when I chose to major in journalism. Every one of us had to take turns being the editor of the university's newspaper called Nadi Bangi.

It was a great experience working together with my coursemates. We spent many nights working into the wee hours to meet deadlines, and these coursemates became my friends for life.

Another memorable life experience from my alma mater was hostel life. Kamsis Ibrahim Yaacob (Kamsis E), located up on a hill, was my second home during my four in UKM. Getting a room each year was tough as only those participating in hostel activities would be shortlisted.

But I enjoyed weekends participating in various sports and society activities such as the Biro Hal Ehwal Wanita. I learnt to get along with acquaintances from all races and acquired leadership skills.

UKM also provided students good experience in organising large scale activities such as Pesta Konvo and Pesta Ponggal, and this includes going out to find hard cash to run them. UKM provided me an all-round education – academic and non-academic.

Sujata V. Poobalasingam, News Editor (Metro), Bachelor of Arts (Hons) 1992

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