IT was just like old times.
Datuk Dr Thed Cor Yong, 56, and his band of “brothers and sisters” had arrived “home”, at Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), Kuala Lumpur.
The graduating class of 1988 sat comfortably in multicoloured auditorium chairs in lecture hall DK2 - their former classroom - as they reminisced about student life and caught up with each other.
“The fondest memory we all had here was our wonderful campus life. Study was tough back then but we did have fun.
“Coming to TAR UC gave us life-long friends and opportunities,” said Dr Thed who graduated with a degree in computer science in 1988.
“The economic downturn happened when we graduated in 1988 and many had a hard time getting a job. But TAR UC students were in high demand and most of us managed to secure full-time positions,” he said.
Dr Thed and the gang returned to their alma mater on its 50th anniversary celebration last Sunday. They presented a mock cheque for RM23,628 to TAR UC president Prof Dr Lee Sze Wei.
“It’s an annual event that we have done since our graduation. Eighty of us (from the class of 1988) would pull funds together.
“This happens when we go for our annual makan trips. Our next one would be to Kuching,” he said, noting that education is an essential part of life.
Dr Thed and other alumni continue to contribute to the institution with their knowledge from industry. This way, the gap between academia and industry can be narrowed, he added.His fellow classmate Cindy Ho Kim Choon, 55, concurs.
“I’m very proud of how much TAR UC has achieved in 50 years. I studied for a bachelor’s degree in Science, majoring in Mathematics and Chemistry
“This is also the place where I met my husband,” shared Ho with a laugh.
She made many lifelong friends, who have become godparents to each other’s children.
“Thanks to technology, we all kept in contact and formed the gang again 10 years after graduation.
“The more we gathered, the more we got to know each other and the closer we became,” she said.
Confident that TAR UC will continue to flourish, Ho hopes it will continue to provide affordable and high quality education to youngsters.
Home is where the heart is
Yeoh Hock Seng was weak in Mathematics when he was a Higher School Certificate (now known as STPM) student in 1980/81.
On the verge of tears, the 58 year-old who is now TAR UC’s head of the Centre for Pre-University Studies, recalled how his Mathematics lecturer, Mr Ting, helped him through hard times by offering extra classes using personal time.
“This remains my favourite experience in TAR UC. He taught me until I passed Maths with flying colours,” said Yeoh who has been with TAR UC for 39 years.
From student to lecturer to head of department and subsequently the head of the Centre for Pre-University Studies, Yeoh said that his second home has been progressing rapidly over the years.
“The facilities were developed and upgraded, and lecturers are constantly improving on their capabilities through numerous workshops,” he said.
Meanwhile, the spring in TAR UC vice president (administration and internationalisation) Assoc Prof Say Sok Kwan’s step remains after 31 years with the institution.
“The institution became home to many students who found their ‘family’ here.
“There are good reasons why staff stay on for such a long time. It is the work environment and our students, who keep us going.
“We are there for the youngsters who start here. We build strong friendships and subsequently create a strong network of alumni, ” says Assoc Prof Say who was an accounting student here from 1984 to 1986.
“My hope is that TAR UC will continue being excellent and will be a renowned university in this region and the world,” she said.
It was 1997 when TAR UC’s Faculty of Social Science, Arts and Humanities programme leader (department of communications) Chuan Tek Pheung graduated. He was part of the institution’s first batch of journalism students.
“Without TAR UC, there was no possibility of an education because most of us came from humble backgrounds. Enrolling into private universities was not an option,” said Chuan, a scholarship recipient who sold comic books and chee cheong fun to gain extra pocket money.
He has been with TAR UC for 21 years.
Students here, he added, benefit from the dedicated lecturers and good partnerships with the industry.
“Throughout my time here, I’ve witnessed modernisation from within TAR UC. The buildings, facilities and engagement with the industry.
“We get a lot of people from the industry to come on board as full-timers and part timers. They become guest lecturers who will teach the whole course, not just one or two lessons, and are in charge of coursework assessments and also exams,” he said.
However, he notes the one thing that has not changed is the passion and drive TAR UC students bring to the table.
“The feedback we receive from industry partners (where the students intern) is that they are passionate about their work. “And because most of them come from humble backgrounds, they remain humble and down-to-earth,” he said, adding that he hopes TAR UC would continue to provide affordable and quality education to students.
Sweet and everlasting memories
TAR UC, to many was an avenue to a better life.
But for Alex Bong Boon Hwee, 44, and Lily Tan, 43, the institution was also a place where the former accounting students found success as well as each other.
“Coming to TAR UC was fate, I believe, which led me to him (Bong).
“Meeting him was the sweetest memory I’ve had in TAR UC, besides bonding with friends who are now godparents to my children, and getting to know my lecturer Koh Soh Kee who became my godmother,” said Tan, laughing.
“TAR UC was the place that brought us together, and the memory of university will stay forever with us.
“This is where we learnt to be independent. It was the first time being away from family for most of us,” said Bong.
Tan and Bong who are based in Singapore drove to Kuala Lumpur to attend TAR UC’s anniversary celebration on March 16 and 17.
Tan believes that “once a TARCian, always a TARCian”.
She added that the bond formed between people in the institution is something “money can’t buy”.
Bong nodded in agreement, saying that university life was a priceless possession to have.
“It is a place that brings people together and helps to make dreams come true,” he said.
Also at the event were MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, deputy president Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon, TAR UC Board of Governors chairman Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and deputy chairman Datuk Seri Dr Hou Kok Chung, TARC Education Foundation Board of Trustees members Tan Sri Lau Yin Pin and Datuk Seri Yew Teong Look.
Former party president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik and his wife Toh Puan Ena Ling and deputy president Tun Michael Chen were also present.
How it all began