EXCELLING both academically and in extra-curricular activities can be overwhelming to many students but not for 23-year-old Nur Aini Ong Maliki Ong, who was awarded the Royal Academic Award (Anugerah Pelajaran DiRaja) at Universiti Malaya recently.
Nur Aini, who graduated with first class honours in Bachelor of Accounting, received RM2,500, a gold medal and a certificate from the university’s Chancellor, Sultan Azlan Shah.
Among the various extra curricular activities which added to her outstanding achievement was representing the country in Sydney, Australia, at an International Work Experience programme organised by the International Accounting Board, CPA Australia, and emerging best speaker for the Body Language & Vocal Variety session in a public speaking workshop.
“I attribute my success to my mother, now a retired teacher, for truly inspiring me, providing me guidance and setting good examples to follow as she loves to read and encouraged me to do so from a young age,” said Nur Aini who is currently an auditor with accounting firm Ernst & Young.
“It took a lot of self determination and never giving up when confronted with problems and obstacles.
“It was challenging but the support of family and friends truly helped a lot,” she added.
Nur Aini obtained 7As in the PMR, 10As in the SPM and 4As in the STPM examinations and entered UM in June 1999 to study for a Bachelor in Accounting.
Disciplined and mature, she managed her time well, striking a balance between studies, extra curricular activities and socialising.
“I had to ensure that I maximised the time allocated for a certain purpose.
“Most importantly, when I attended a lecture, I made sure I understood and concentrated on the lesson as that makes a lot of difference,” said Nur Aini.
She added that group discussions and “working hand-in-hand” with friends were also key to her success.
“Since the course is quite theoretical, it is also essential to seek hands-on experience through working with companies during the holidays to apply what is learnt and further enhance our knowledge,” said Nur Aini, who was a Vacation Trainee with accounting firm Arthur Andersen during semester breaks.
Not limiting herself to academic excellence, Nur Aini was actively involved in community service. For instance, she assisted McKinsey & Co and General Electric in organising leadership workshops for higher education students.
A lover of the outdoors, Nur Aini even climbed Mount Kinabalu and joined an expedition to Taman Negara during the holidays.
What next for this enterprising young woman?
“I am currently sitting for a professional examination – the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which is equivalent to a Masters degree,” said Nur Aini, who aims to one day start her own accounting firm.
According to Nur Aini, three years in university made her a different person.
“I can now tackle situations more independently. I also learnt that we can’t do things alone as we need to constantly communicate and co-operate with others,” she said.
Apart from the Royal Academic Award, Nur Aini also received the University Book Award for her excellent results in the final year examinations.
Another recipient of the Royal Academic Award was Raha Sulaiman from Batu Pahat, Johor, who also excelled both academically and in extra-curricular activities while pursuing a Bachelor in Building Surveying.
The 11th child of 12 siblings was also the recipient of numerous other awards, such as the Gold Medal Award from the Institution of Surveyors Malaysia, the Association of Building Engineers (United Kingdom) Award and the University Book Award.