SOME 2,399 Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) students graduated during the 23rd Convocation ceremony last weekend.
Held at the grand Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik Hall at the Kampar campus, the ceremony was held over four days between Aug 19 and 21.
The graduates earned degrees from 86 programmes, with six receiving their doctorates, 54 masters degree, 64 honours degree with distinction and the rest bachelors with honours.
The ceremony was oficiated by Dr Ling. Also present were International Trade and Industries Minister II Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, Utar President Datuk Dr Chuah Hean Teik and guest of honour TropBio Research Sdn Bhd Chairman Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor.
In his speech to the graduates, Dr Salleh said patriotism also means taking care of the land that our forefathers fought for.
Dr Salleh said despite 59 years of independence, the management of the country can always be improved.
“Former British Environment Secretary John Gummer once famously said ‘We are rich because we pollute’.
“Malaysia is also on its way to become a rich country,” he said.
“The rivers that flow in our land are mostly polluted. Our land is also covered by mountains of improperly disposed household rubbish while construction waste contributes to increasing dengue cases,” Dr Salleh said.
“Beyond the moment of passionate flag waving, patriotism also means taking care of our land,” he added.
Dr Salleh also urged the graduates to continue seeking self-improvement even though they had left university life.
“We learn something new every day and we must continue to improve. Self-improvement begins with self-growth in the area of your knowledge.
“Your skills will improve with practice whether it be communication, leadership skills or management skills,” he said.
Bachelor of Communication (Honours) Public Relations graduate Chia Yi Jing, from Klang, said she has started work in a PR firm in Kuala Lumpur.
“After completing my studies, I was absorbed into the agency where I did my internship in April.
“I’ve learnt at university has been very useful at work,” said the 22-year-old.
“Some of this includes writing press releases, brainstorming for ideas, preparing proposals and liaising with clients and the media,” she added.
Chia, who received a distinction in her degree, said time management is crucial to finding the right balance between studies, school activities and leisure.
“I was very active with public relation activities at Utar.
“I’ve learned to prioritise the things that are urgent and to focus on it before doing another thing,” she said.
“We only get 24 hours a day, so I needed to utilise the time efficiently. Only when I have free time, then I’ll go hang out with friends,” Chia said.
“I think it’s better we don’t put too much pressure on ourselves and to just do things normally,” she added.
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) English Education graduate Nurelysa Shahdan, 23, said she will look for a job and also continue her education for a masters at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Skudai.
Nurelysa, from Kulai, Johor, said she will be studying part-time for an education course for administration and management.
“I think the course will take between two to four years,” she added.
Nurelysa said she had an unforgettable experience studying in Kampar.
“It was quite an experience because I am far from home.
“I am blessed to have met helpful and caring friends and lecturers,” she said, adding that Kampar is also clean and peaceful, which is conducive for learning.
Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (Honours) graduate S. Mohan Raj, 26, also said he had an enjoyable time at the university.
Mohan Raj, from Kampar, said the university provided a good study environment and experienced lecturers.
“I’ve also did my internship at the Kuala Lumpur and Ampang Hospitals for few months where I learnt a lot.
“Being in the medical field, there’s a huge responsibility to look after those who are sick,” he said.
“I try not to be stressed out and to find a good and balance for work and recreation,” he added.
In his speech, Dr Chuah said the university had disbursed some RM37.4mil in funding to assist young researchers to kickstart viable research projects.
This, he said, would build experience and confidence in the young researchers to progress and delve deeper.
“Utar also established its Undergraduate Research Scheme so students can undergo a structured programme train them in various aspects of implementing research projects and to participate in active research in their respective fields of study,” he said.
“There are now some 290 ongoing research projects in various fields that will, either directly or indirectly, aid in the betterment of society, the nation or humanity,” he added.
Dr Chuah also said some RM107.8mil in scholarships and RM6mil students loans have been disbursed to about 12,226 students.
“Utar believes that the key to alleviate life’s challenges and to turn life around is through education in acquiring essential knowledge and skills.
“By removing the financial hurdles to obtaining an education, families will get a fair opportunity to work towards turning lives around,” he said.
The convocation also saw the conferment of honorary doctorate of architecture to Utar Council Member Jay Yeunh Wee Tiong.
Another council member, Datuk Lum Tuck Loy, the founder of Kam Lun Tai Food Industries Sdn Bhd, received an honorary doctorate in food science. Yeunh and Lum received their doctorates for their contributions and leadership in their respective fields.
The number of Utar’s alumni now stands at 45,427.