IT was not the end of the world for Muhammad Firdaus Abu Hassan (pic) when he lost his eyesight at the age of 14.
With tenacity and grit, he overcame the challenges that came his way and continually seized opportunities to further his studies.
His effort proved worthwhile as recently, he secured his third scholarship from Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) to pursue his PhD in Disability Equality Training at Universiti Malaya.
Determined to bridge the gaps in disability understanding and fostering inclusivity for persons with disabilities (PWD) in the country, Muhammad Firdaus was awarded a YSD Special Award Bursary at the foundation’s Scholarship Award Ceremony (SAC) 2023 on Aug 23.
He was among 83 outstanding Malaysians who received scholarships and bursaries totalling over RM14.5mil.
The awardees included 30 PWDs who received scholarships under the YSD Special Needs Programme.
In his opening remarks at the event held at the Sime Darby Plantation Auditorium in Selangor, YSD chairman Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar stressed the potential of YSD scholars as ambassadors of the foundation to effect positive change.
“YSD recognises the academic excellence of individuals of diverse backgrounds, experiences and abilities to thrive and contribute to society.
“Each scholarship and bursary awarded represents an investment in the future of individuals and a collective investment in the future of a more sustainable Malaysia,” he said.
Other recipients were Wan Ameerul Mukmin Abdul Razak, who will be pursuing chemical engineering and biotechnology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom; Oxford-bound Amrithaa Velayutham, who will be studying earth sciences; and Renee Priya Robert, who secured a spot at the London School of Economics to study data science.
Additionally, 20 scholarships from the Excellence category were awarded to exceptional students embarking on studies at institutions in Malaysia, the UK and Australia.
In line with the foundation’s commitment to providing equal access to education, 29 Sime Darby employees’ children from diverse backgrounds and bearing inspiring stories received education bursaries to pursue their tertiary studies.
Among them were Azwanieza Vanda Alladin from Sabah, Marcella Jabah Anak Dagang from Sarawak, and Muhammad Afiq Ahmad Faizal from Selangor.
Themed “Celebrating Diversity and Promoting Inclusion”, the ceremony also spotlighted the support extended to eight Sime Darby employees, three of whom will pursue the Executive MBA Programme at the Asia School of Business in collaboration with the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Gracing the occasion as guest of honour was OKU Sentral president Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi.
YSD is the philanthropic arm of Sime Darby Plantation, Sime Darby Berhad and Sime Darby Property.
Recognising the growing significance of vocational skills in bolstering the nation’s economic and educational strategies, YSD has supported 1,412 talented individuals through RM37.4mil in bursaries since 2007, and will be awarding 340 more for TVET education under the YSD Skill Enrichment Programme to youth from B40 families by the end of this year.
In addition to the scholarships, YSD scholars are given access to its Thrive Programme as a comprehensive learning experience unique to the foundation.
Through soft skills training, mentorship support, resilient leadership development, industrial internships, volunteerism opportunities, and access to an elearning platform, YSD scholars are empowered to excel academically and professionally as all-round and socially aware graduates.
Since 1982, the foundation has awarded over RM374mil in education scholarships to 5,817 deserving students.
New applications for YSD scholarships and bursaries will open in March next year.