Ambitious students raring to go


Pictures by KAMAL SELLEHUDDIN, ART CHEN, KAMARUL ARIFFIN and UU BAN LEONG

Two hundred students received more than RM5mil worth of scholarships under the Star Education Fund. JOANNE LIM and SIMRIT KAUR were present to share in the joy and excitement. 

IT was a double celebration for identical twins New Chin-Ee and Yen-Ee who were awarded Star Education Fund scholarships at a presentation ceremony in Petaling Jaya on Monday. 

Having almost everything in common, it was not surprising that they both received scholarships to pursue the Bachelor of Electronic and Communication Engineering at the University of Nottingham in Malaysia (UNiM). 

“We both enjoy Mathematics, Physics and Science, so it makes sense to do the same degree at the same place,” said Chin-Ee. 

DOUBLE BONUS, TWIN HAPPINESS: Identical twins Chin--Ee and Yen-Ee both received the Star Education Fund scholarship for an engineering degree.

Yen-Ee added: “We are looking forward to competing with each other as it will motivate us further.” 

The 18-year-olds enjoy photography, feasting on Malaysian food and, believe it or not, have similar plans for their future.  

“We want to set up an engineering company together. I can’t think of anyone better to work with than my own brother,” said Yen Ee. 

Like Chin-Ee and Yen-Ee, the smiles on the faces of the 198 scholarship recipients painted a promising picture of their future. 

The Fund celebrated its 10th anniversary on Monday by giving out scholarships worth RM5.1mil to deserving students. Divided into two tiers, the first tier of the Fund consists of contributions made by The Star. This year, six students received scholarships to study at Montfort Boys Town and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman from The Star.  

The second tier pools together scholarships from local and foreign higher educational institutions. 

The contributors are Alif Creative Academy, Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology, Edith Cowan University, Equator Academy of Art and Design, FTMS-De Montfort University, Help Institute, Institute Advertising, Communication and Training, Inti College Malaysia, Inti International College Penang, Institut Perkim-Goon, Informatics, KLC Centre for Higher Studies, KDU College, LimKokWing University College of Creative Technology, Malaysia University of Science and Technology, Malaysian Institute of Integrative Media, Metropolitan College, Nilai College, Penang Medical College, Millennium Institute of Technology, PJ College of Art and Design, Rima College, Prime College, Pusat Teknologi dan Pengurusan Lanjutan (Sungai Petani), Saito Academy, SAL Group of Colleges, Sedaya International College, SEG International Bhd, Stamford College, Sunway College, Taylor’s College, The One Academy, the University of East London, and the University of Nottingham in Malaysia (see list on P14). 

In her welcoming address, The Star’s group chief editor Datuk Ng Poh Tip said that every year, many prestigious educational institutions which share The Star’s vision have come forward “to work hand-in-hand with us.” 

“The success of the fund is in great part a result of the generous and collaborative efforts of our partners-in-education,” she added. Ng also presented the six first tier scholarships to the recipients. 

Bright future  

For many, pursuing higher education would not have been possible without the Star Education Fund. 

When 20-year-old Saravanan Manogaran received a phone call informing him of his success in obtaining the scholarship, he was lost for words. 

“I didn’t know whether to shout or cry. Either way, it has given me a new direction in life,” said Saravanan, who is pursuing a Diploma in Computer Engineering at Informatics, Penang. 

Prior to obtaining the scholarship, he said he had “lost all hope of studying” after being offered a course in computer science rather than computer engineering, at a local public university. 

“I didn’t get my first choice, and I couldn’t afford to go to a private higher education institution,” he added. 

Knowing that his sister was a Star Education Fund scholarship recipient, doing a degree in business and IT, he too applied to the Fund for a scholarship with his STPM results. 

“I foresee a bright future for computer engineers in the coming years. There will be more job prospects as Malaysia advances in the field of technology,” he said. 

”I will pursue a degree in electric and electronic engineering, then a master’s degree, then get my Ir ( chartered engineer) status, and top it all off with a PhD. I will find work only after I have accomplished all that,” said the ambitious Saravanan. 

For aspiring software engineer Wong Jen Yin, 19, doing the Bachelor in Computer Science at Stamford College is a dream come true. Her mother died of lung cancer when she was 11 years old, and her father works as a lorry driver. 

“The scholarship means a lot to me. It’s like I’ve been given a new life through this chance at obtaining a degree. I am now one step closer to realising my dream and I will do my best to succeed,” Jen Yin said. 

Singing and studying 

Sunway College Bachelor of Multimedia Systems student Eric Lim Kien Fei, 21, said the Star Education Fund scholarship is a “great help” to him. 

“I’m the eldest in the family. The scholarship would make my parents’ life much easier as they can now focus on my two younger siblings,” said the Astro Talent Quest 2001 winner who was busy posing for pictures with his fans after the ceremony. 

Apart from his passion for singing, Eric enjoys graphic design and animation. 

“It has always been my goal to set up a web-designing and animation company. The money I am saving from my singing career will help to develop the company,” he added. 

THE STAR SCHOLARS: Recipients of scholarships contributed by The Star, to study at Monfort Boys Town and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, are seen here with Datuk Ng Poh Tip and Fund secretary Ng Kok Wah.

Eric said it has been “very difficult” to juggle singing and studies at the same time but believes that success comes through good time management and discipline. 

“I don’t go for studio practices, rather, I sing whenever and wherever I like, so the bulk of my time is still dedicated to my books,” said the young celebrity. 

He added: “ Singing is just as important. After all, it helps me overcome stress from my studies.” 

Family support 

Some recipients brought their own supporters to the ceremony in the form of family and friends. 

Kennard Khoo Kay Kjin, 18, who made the trip from Penang to receive his scholarship, was proud to have his aunt and two cousins present on the special occasion.  

“I am lucky to have such a supportive family. It’s my duty to achieve what I can and, hopefully, inspire my younger cousins,” said Kennard, who is pursuing the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants programme at Institut Perkim-Goon in Penang. 

His six-year-old cousin, Khoo Kay Cher, quipped: “He’s very clever and I always look to him for advice when I have problems or questions.” 

Kay Cher and his sister Kay Hui, three, are ardent fans of Kennard, a former national wushu exponent.  

“He gives his best to everything he sets out to do. That is what we admire in him,” said aunt Chong Sook Fun.  

Setting an example 

It was all in the family for Malaysian Institute of Integrative Media (MIIM) recipient Saidatul Rufaidah Mohamed Perdauz, 19, from Ipoh. 

“I didn't know about the Star Education Fund and had actually enrolled at MIIM before my lecturer told me about it. I thought I’d try my luck and I’m so happy to get it; it will take the burden off my parents,” said the Diploma in Broadcasting student, who is the eldest of four siblings.  

Rufaidah’s parents, Mohamed Perdauz Ahad and Mahiyah Mardziah Yeop Ahmad, who are both clerks in government service, were there to share in her joy, as were her younger sisters, Saidatul Akmah and Saidatul Afifah. 

“Words can’t express my happiness. I cried when I saw her on stage,” her mother Mahiyah said. 

“I hope she goes on to do her degree and set an example for her younger sisters,” said the proud father Mohamed Perdauz. 

Super-cool dad Benny Kumar Bastian accompanied his eldest daughter, Cheryl Marie Bastian, 20, to the ceremony. 

“She worked hard and did well in school, in both academic and extra-curricular activities. I’m glad she has been given the chance to pursue a course suitable for her,” said Bastian, who works as a bank credit manager. 

Cheryl is pursuing a Diploma in Advertising, at Institute Advertising Communication and Training. 

“I’ve always been an extrovert and love meeting people,” she said, adding that her father has always emphasised the importance of being focused rather than wasting time “floating”, not knowing what to do.  

Opportunity knocks  

From aspiring engineers to graphic designers, the Star Education Fund has certainly opened doors of opportunity for many deserving students.  

Mohd Firdaus Abdul Halim, 18, already knows he will make an impact with his furniture designs. 

“I will create chairs, maybe with no legs floating in the air, or something totally different from the ones we have now. It’s a borderless world out there in terms of product design. There’s so much room for creativity,” he said. 

He intends to polish his designing skills by pursuing the Diploma in Product Design at LimKokWing University College of Creative Technology. 

“I used to sketch various designs when I was in school. I might also venture into jewellery and even kitchen appliances one day,” said Mohd Firdaus, whose father is a retired estate manager. 

“I want to become a world-renowned furniture designer and be listed among top designers like Jimmy Choo (the Malaysian shoe couturier based in the UK),” he said. 

The business of food 

Lim Je Chin, 18, said the scholarship would take her one step closer to achieving her ambition of setting up her own “cake house”. 

Pursuing a Diploma in Accounting at Stamford College, Je Chin said the course serves as a good foundation for her future business plans. 

“I was in the science stream but because of my love for numbers and calculations, I chose to sit for the Accounts subject and scored 1A in the SPM exam,” said Je Chin. 

“After obtaining my diploma, I plan to enrol in a professional baking course and make full use of both my interests in accounting and baking to run a successful business.”  

Nicholas D. Arguelles, 19, said thanks to the scholarship, he is now on his way to fulfilling his childhood dream of running a catering business, like his mother. 

“I enjoy helping my mother when she caters for large functions, such as birthday parties. I might want to venture into catering for wedding parties one day,” he added.  

The KDU College Diploma in Hotel and Catering Management student said he has always been interested in food. 

“Mom makes really tasty nasi kuning (a traditional Indonesian dish) and adobo, a beef dish from the Philippines. The pot roast is my all-time favourite,” added Nicholas, who also has “hotel manager” and “restaurant owner” on his list of ambitions. 

The eldest of four hopes to set an example for his brothers and sisters. 

“Through hard work and perseverance, it is never impossible to obtain a scholarship to pursue higher education,” he said.  

Dedicated to education  

Fund contributors from the 34 local and foreign institutions presented the scholarship certificates to the recipients.  

Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology (Apiit) managing director Parmjit Singh said the college is happy to have contributed to the Fund over the years. This year, Apiit gave out 10 scholarships, eight for the 3+0 degree programme and two diplomas.  

“Many of the recipients are highly motivated, they deserve a chance to pursue higher education. Without the scholarship this might not have been possible.” 

He said that other than the Star Education Fund, Apiit also channelled scholarships via several organisations, including the MIC, Umno Youth, the Malaysian Sikh Union and the Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities. This year, about 150 students at Apiit received scholarships. 

Calvin Chan, marketing manager of Institut Perkim-Goon, said that it was good that The Star had set up the Fund as the Government policy is that 40% of the population should have access to tertiary education. 

“The Fund provides an avenue for deserving students to pursue higher education and we will continue to support it because of its noble objectives,” he said, adding that most of the students were interested in Accounting and Business qualifications, rather than IT. 

Scholarship recipients pose for a group photograph with representatives from the fund contributors.

KLC Centre for Higher Studies director of operations and marketing, Bina Jaya Prakash, gave the Fund a big thumbs. “I think you are doing a wonderful job!” 

She said the quality of candidates who applied for this year’s Fund was very good. “One of last year’s recipients for the Master of Business Administration, Theviga Rajasingam, is doing very well and is among our top students,” she said. 

The University of Nottingham in Malaysia vice-president Dr Brian Atkins said: “The quality of applicants has gone up. The level of academic achievement of some of the students who applied was staggering. The fact that some of them come from such disadvantaged backgrounds makes their performance even more remarkable.” 

He advised those who did not succeed in getting a scholarship to apply for a loan under the National Higher Education Fund Corporation. 

Metropolitan College chief executive of academic affairs Goh Kek Seng said he was pleased that more bumiputra candidates were obtaining scholarships from The Star.  

Taylor’s College president Khoo Soo Peng said he was very happy to work with The Star for such a worthy cause. “I think all the scholarship recipients will work hard to justify the faith Taylor’s and The Star has in them.” 

Related story:Decade of scholarships

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