From grit to gold

Nod to timeless values: Shashivarmaan receiving the award from Sharifah. Looking on are Thien (far left) and UUM Alumni Centre director Assoc Prof Dr Lily Julienti Abu Bakar (second from right).

NOT one to make excuses, Tunku Abdul Rahman Foundation scholar Shashivarmaan Thevaraj, 24, has once again proven that hard work pays off even in the face of adversity.

The young man from Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan, is the first alumnus from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) to receive the prestigious Tunku Gold Medal Award, which carries a cash prize of RM10,000 and a Community Programme Grant of RM10,000.

The Bachelor of International Affairs graduate received the Tunku Abdul Rahman Foundation award on Dec 6 at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.The Tunku Medal is awarded to bachelor’s degree recipients from Malaysian public universities who best exemplify the values of Malaysia’s late Father of Independence, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, in areas such as scholarship, leadership, and character.The award was presented by Tunku’s granddaughter Datin Seri Sharifah Menyalara Hussein, who sits on the foundation’s board of trustees, and the organisation’s acting chief executive Ida Thien.

Thanking his family, lecturers, friends, and the foundation for helping him on his journey to success, Shashivarmaan shared how the hardships of his life had pushed him to excel in academics and co-curricular activities.

“Throughout my time at university, I worked hard to achieve excellent exam results, and my efforts were rewarded because I received the Dean’s Award every semester.

“In addition to ensuring excellent academic results, I was actively involved in co-curricular activities such as the Tunku Abdul Rahman Foundation leadership programme.

“I even had the opportunity to conduct a study on statelessness issues in Malaysia with a researcher for the Malaysian Human Rights Commission,” he said in a press release.

Due to his perseverance and positive outlook, Shashivarmaan had been chosen to represent Malaysia at the prestigious Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) in the United States.

“I am from a poor family. My father worked as a security guard and my mother worked in a factory.“I must not forget the sacrifices of my parents, and also my grandmother and aunt who raised me from the time I was a young boy,” he said, adding that his background had motivated him to study hard in the hope of improving his family’s future.

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