THEY aren’t just book-smart, these scholarship recipients are hands-on and have a good knowledge of any given topic and what’s happening around the world.
Being the creme de la creme of the recent academic year, the top scorers from Methodist College Kuala Lumpur (MCKL) likened their scholarship application process to that of The Apprentice — the popular reality series that challenges its applicants to prove their worth.
Academically excellent with near perfect GPA scores, the students related how they were grilled and asked a wide range of mind-boggling questions meant for the genius and some easy ones that caught them off guard simply because they were not at all difficult!
Twenty-year-old Soo Jin Yun who will be pursuing Electrical & Electronic Engineering with Management at the Imperial College London, United Kingdom said her biggest hurdle was the final interview where she was shot down with questions from three panelists, all experts in their respective fields.
Jin Yun who received a scholarship from Gamuda said:“They posed difficult questions, most had nothing to do with Gamuda or my course, but they wanted to get to know me ... things that interested and motivated me,” she added.
“Although the field of engineering is conventionally dominated by males, I like taking on a challenge.
“Originally, I wanted to do mechanical engineering, but after an internship at a consulting firm, I took an interest in Electrical Engineering instead.
“Still I had to apply for several scholarships before I could lock down the one that I was happy with,” she said.
Fellow scholarship holders agreed saying that most applicants would apply for multiple scholarships to increase their chances of success or as a back-up plan.
“The hardest part for me was the final interview with three professional panelists from different fields.
Her schoolmate, 20 year-old Economics student Lok Chen Yue, will be pursuing a degree in Government Policy at the University College London (UCL) on a Khazanah Scholarship.
“I have a very inquisitive mind, I read newspapers and economic journals and everything I can find on the Internet.
“I had signed up for an Economics course, but the more I found out, the more I wanted to know, it was addictive and this course is good for me!” he said.
“Khazanah scholarships seek people from diverse fields to initiate ground-breaking ideas ... who can be the vanguards of Malaysia.
“The application process was both challenging and tedious and the final round had corporate bigwigs asking me baffling questions. This was totally unexpected,” he added.
Fellow Khazanah scholarship recipient Ng Wai Lam agreed with Chen Yue adding that the application process was challenging.
“I think the crucial stage is at the third level, where questions like ‘How do you see Malaysia in the coming five years?’ or ‘How can you contribute to Malaysia after graduating from Oxford?’ are asked,” he said.
Both scholars said their application process involved four rounds which saw many candidates being eliminated.
The first round saw the submission of over 4,000 applicants that was filtered down to about 600 people for the second round; the third round had only 70 applicants and by the last round, there were just nine candidates for the final interview.
Wai Lam said that at his final interview, he was asked what he envisioned for the future of Malaysia’s Biochemistry industry.
“There is a dire need in Malaysia to start something in the bioscience field and I shared that with my interviewers. I told them that my plan was to connect with fellow students in Ivy league universities like Oxford or Princeton and upon my return to Malaysia, begin networking with them on major developments in stem-cell research,” he added.
Another successful applicant Janice Koh Kar Oon, 19, will be flying to Japan, on a scholarship granted by the Japanese government as well as a supplementary scholarship from Japan Graduates’ Association of Malaysia (JAGAM). She said that she was privileged to be the only Malaysian granted the scholarship for Environmental Science.
Janice said that was impressed with how Japanese authorities have taken measures to recover from natural disasters.
Chan Yen Ping however, chose the path less travelled by opting for a career in Education.
Heading to the University of Cambridge on a MCKL Teaching scholarship, she said her passion for teaching started years ago when she helped her father teach people from poor backgrounds in villages.
“After my A-Levels, I went back to my old school and taught there for six months as a substitute teacher.
“It was a very enriching experience for me, but I knew I still needed to learn more.
“I chose Cambridge over other established varsities because it has made a name for itself in the field of teaching.
“After finishing my studies, I look forward to returning to my alma mater to teach pre-university students for four years,” she said.
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Dhanya Menon Radhakrishnan received a Public Services Department scholarship to study medicine at Newcastle University in Johor.
“What sparked my interest was the short stint at my father’s clinic where I helped him out with patients. My brother is also a doctor,” said the lass who has plans of becoming an anaesthetist.
Since its inception in 1983, MCKL has had many successful scholarship recipients. This academic year alone saw 48 students receiving scholarships.
* MCKL is a contributor to the Star Education Fund.