So grateful to fellow graduate


WHEN Tan Chin Chin, born with cerebral palsy, and mother of six Jameyah Sheriff first met as course mates in Universiti Sains Malaysia three years ago, little did they know they would end up as best friends. 

Despite all odds and their age difference – Tan was then 21 and Jameyah, 43, – they made a famous pair in campus. 

“I really thank my best friend, Puan Jameyah for chauffeuring me around, helping to borrow library books, buying me food and sending me home to Batu Lanchang during the holidays,” said Tan, 24, after her graduation at USM’s 35th convocation yesterday. She obtained a degree in Bachelor of Social Science in Anthropology and Sociology. 

SPECIAL BOND ... Tan Chin Chin, 24, being congratulated by Jameyah Sheriff, 46, after their graduation at USM yesterday.

Tan Chin Chin (second right) showing her degree certificate to members of USM's Penyayang Club. On the left is club adviser Dr Reevany Bustami.  

Tan Chin Chin being lifted by members of USM's Penyayang Club members after her graduation.

“When I faced difficulty in getting on the campus bus during my first week here, I felt like giving up. 

“Without Puan Jameyah, my supportive lecturers, USM’s Penyayang Club members and Friends of the OKU (“orang kurang upaya” – disabled) I would not have come this far,” said Tan, recipient of the Chancellor’s Gold Medal Award, the university’s highest award for the best student. 

Tan, who walks without physical aid and speaks with a slur, was also awarded the USM Women’s Association Gold Medal together with another graduate Ling Yoke Lin. 

Jameyah, 46, said when a lecturer asked their Anthropology and Sociology class on the se-cond day of class for a volunteer with a car to help Tan, she responded.  

“We share the same interests and when we chose our fields of interest in the second seme-ster, we ended up going to virtually the same courses,” said Jameyah, who operated a private childcare centre before pursuing her degree in USM. 

She is also the chief executive officer of Institute of Early Years Development in Damansara Perdana. 

Jameyah said Tan had taken part in Astro’s reality show Misi Suara Hati to raise funds for disabled school children and also won the silver medal in an exhibition on research and innovation in the univer-sity. 

“She spoke to the Prime Minister and addressed a crowd of some 1,000 during the Penyayang Clubs Summit 2004 and highlighted that disabled students had not received their allowances. 

“They received their allowances after that,” said Jameyah, who was Tan’s translator during that event. 

USM vice chancellor Prof Datuk Dzulkifli Abdul Razak said the two best friends told a “good story of race relations.” 

He said the university was coincidentally undergoing renovations to make a hostel and other facilities friendly to “differently-abled” students at the same time Tan came in. 

“Special people are not paid enough attention and we don’t see them often enough in mainstream events, but Chin Chin changed all that as I see her everywhere because she is so active,” he said.  

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