Students share heartfelt stories at convocation

MORE than 2,000 UNITAR International University (UNITAR) students from its 11 campuses graduated at the university’s seventh convocation at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, on Nov 16.

Amid the celebratory mood at the event, several UNITAR students chose to reflect on their journeys and what led them to where they are now – a university graduate with a priceless scroll in his hands.

Rahul Thomas is a prime example of UNITAR’s key principles – CARE, which stands for “Collaborative, Adaptive, Reflective, and Entrepreneurial”.

The university’s goal is to develop graduates who can critically analyse situations in a holistic manner to discover new experiences, using available resources to change their challenges into opportunities that benefit not only themselves but also their community.

Rahul started his academic journey by enrolling in multimedia studies, but soon found it was not the course for him. He chose to venture into cyber security and enrolled in the Bachelor of Technology (Computer Security) degree at UNITAR.

“One of the reasons I took this course was due to the high demand for security experts, ” he said.

It was no smooth ride for Rahul, but he adapted and pulled through with the help of his family. He shared that he was initially worried that he would not get an internship or job as easily but was instantly assured upon learning that UNITAR has secured partnership with more than 110 key players in the marketplace.

“Others may have taken the easy route, but I wanted to enrol in a more specialised course at UNITAR. I wanted an edge from the rest upon graduation, and I can safely say that I have got it!”

Rahul continued explaining that after completing his course and waiting on the graduation ceremony, he was allowed the opportunity to enrol in a two-month certification course by the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra) to upskill himself.

“I am also thankful that UNITAR organised industry roundtables, where I was exposed to new information by industry experts. The short course and the roundtable lent real-world experience. I now know the demands of the industry and am therefore, well prepared for what is about to come.”

He attributed his success to his loved ones and thanked them for supporting him throughout his academic journey.

“My parents, family members, friends and lecturers always reminded me to not give up, ” he added.

“I also felt a strong sense of belonging at UNITAR as students, staff and management see each other as equals, as we are all on a journey of self-discovery and self-betterment.”

The Cheras-born graduate further encapsulates the university’s CARE principles with an entrepreneurial streak, as he has been running an event management company since his second year of studies.

“The industry roundtables brought out the entrepreneur in me. Never knew I had it. And now, second year on, and my company is thriving well. It’s surreal to be able to run my passion for event management as my own business, ” Rahul said enthusiastically.

“From the beginning at UNITAR, I felt driven to do more than study. I also needed to flex my entrepreneurial muscles, so to speak. I’m glad UNITAR provided those platforms of learning.”

Rahul Thomas and his family, who he credits for helping him achieve his dreams.Rahul Thomas and his family, who he credits for helping him achieve his dreams.

With the combination of his degree and event management experience, Rahul found that he is a lot more outgoing and adapts well to new situations. He is confident of securing a job soon through industry partners like SQL and Mimos, and with the university’s employability rate higher than 80%, it’s certain that Rahul can look forward to a bright future.

Rahul expressed that there is a need for more cyber security experts in Malaysia.

“I want Malaysians to know about this course, especially SPM school-leavers. I want them to consider this course as there will continue to be a demand for cyber security experts. The world is their oyster for those who choose this career path.”

Owengelo Rosalia, from the Philippines, underwent many personal struggles before finally earning his Bachelor of Business Administration.

“During my time at UNITAR, I had to cope with family conflicts, including the separation of my parents. Sometimes, I had to miss classes to handle family matters, because, after all, they are my parents.”

However, he found solace and encouragement in his siblings and extended family, which gave him the strength to continue his studies at UNITAR.

“My brother, sister and niece would always cheer me up and motivate me to want to become a stronger person. They are very proud of me and passionately encouraged me to pursue my dreams at UNITAR.”

He credits them for his enrolment at the university, explaining that his older sister and many cousins are also graduates of UNITAR, and therefore he wanted to follow in their footsteps.

Rosalia also exhibits the best parts of UNITAR’s CARE principles – his unrelenting spirit in the face of adversity and willingness to respond positively to change perfectly embodies the principle.

Owengelo Rosalia says despite personal hardship, UNITAR has provided him with an amazing student life. Owengelo Rosalia says despite personal hardship, UNITAR has provided him with an amazing student life.

Melinda Chelsea Mickey graduated with a second class upper in a Bachelor of Guidance and Counselling.

Hailing from Sabah, Melinda was torn between pursuing her studies at home with family and friends within arm’s reach or venturing to the main campus in Petaling Jaya.

She opted for the latter as she was keen on the exposure that would ensue.

Melinda had a fantastic student life. “UNITAR’s main campus felt just like home. I was surprised to find so many fellow East Malaysians. We, of course, became close friends very quickly, and that made being far from home a little easier.”

She could have chosen any campus from the 11 nationwide but felt that the Kelana Jaya main campus would allow her the most freedom to explore her limits.

“Student life was truly an amazing experience, thanks to the systemic education provided by the university. The campus is modernised, so e-books and e-libraries were part and parcel of the courses.”

Melinda Chelsea Mickey is looking forward to a new journey that inspires the future of young minds and hearts.Melinda Chelsea Mickey is looking forward to a new journey that inspires the future of young minds and hearts.

Syed Fairul Syed Yahya al-Mashoor thanked UNITAR for providing him with a career progression pathway through the Accreditation for Prior Experiential Learning (APEL), crediting it for enabling him to graduate with a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

APEL is a systematic process that involves the identification, documentation and assessment of prior experiential learning, which may be acquired through various channels, including formal schooling, work and life experiences, training, independent study, volunteer work, hobbies and others.

“I started my career years ago with only a diploma, ” said Syed Fairul.

“Six years later, I was hungry for more. I wanted to climb the corporate ladder, seek new challenges and opportunities. So, what do I do? Enrol at UNITAR for an MBA. Now, I am celebrating a new milestone with UNITAR through its APEL programme. All of my experiences have been crystallised into a pathway through which I earned my MBA, ” he added.

Newly minted MBA graduate Syed Fairul Syed Yahya al-Mashoor says his journey to achieve his MBA was long, but very much worth it. Newly minted MBA graduate Syed Fairul Syed Yahya al-Mashoor says his journey to achieve his MBA was long, but very much worth it.

He also pointed out that with the various financial incentives offered by the university, any student would be confident to pursue their higher education, and to realise their dreams.

He also favoured the opportunities inherent in the industry immersion sessions built into the MBA course with head honchos of MNCs and GLCs. The globetrotter mused, “I wonder where my journey will take me next.”

UNITAR houses students from all walks of life and family backgrounds. Nevertheless, one can achieve great things with the right support, motivation and CARE vice chancellor Prof Dr Noor Raihan Ab Hamid, who expressed her passion for the graduates in her opening address at the convocation.

“All of you have earned your way into UNITAR and many of you did it while working and dealing with everything that life throws at you, ” she said.

“This convocation is our way of thanking you for inspiring all of the UNITAR community with your dedication, perseverance and faith.”

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