Medical grad’s Soong of hope


Resilient: Soong posing before the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus early this year.

FAMILY circumstances, financial constraints and academic struggles almost dented her hopes of becoming a doctor.

But time and again, Maybel Soong proved that no difficulty was too hard for her to surmount.

A medical graduate since October last year, the 25-year-old has recently completed her one-month attachment at Cleveland Clinic, one of the premier medical institutions in the United States.

Reflecting on her journey to achieving her dream of pursuing a career in medicine, she said, “Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”

As a child, Soong dreamt of becoming a doctor. She found a deep sense of fulfilment in offering support and comfort to those around her, whether by lending an ear to their problems or simply bringing a smile to their faces.

But what really fuelled her determination to pursue a career in medicine was the loss of her father to a heart attack, as well as her grandmother at a young age.

“I never wanted to feel powerless again.

“I felt a genuine desire to alleviate the suffering of others and educate them in the prevention of diseases.

“I wanted to take care of people, including my loved ones,” she told StarEdu.

But her journey to achieving her career goal was fraught with challenges.

Soong shared that she struggled academically during her secondary school years.

Perseverance, as well as seeking tuition, she said, were key to overcoming her weaknesses in subjects like Physics and Maths.

A bigger obstacle for her was obtaining finances to fund her medical education.

Her parents divorced when she was only two years old, leaving her mother to single-handedly raise her and her two sisters.

Her aunt, she shared, graciously opened her home to them, while her mother juggled multiple part-time jobs to support their family in addition to dedicating her time to volunteer at a temple in Johor.

A temple monk eventually funded Soong’s medical education at Mahsa University with the support of her family.

Expressing gratitude for their support, she said the cost of medical education had once made her dream seem distant but their encouragement motivated her to succeed and make them proud.

“The one who has and will continue to inspire me the most is my mother.

“All her strength throughout adversity made me realise that there’s always light in every darkness,” she said.

Despite her busy schedule as a medical student, Soong found time to be a part-time embroidery artist, selling her intricate creations under the handle @maybroidery on Instagram, which has attracted over 13,000 followers.

She said it began as a hobby during the enforcement of the movement control order due to the Covid-19 pandemic, providing both income and solace amid the rigours of medical school.

“My embroidery business became more than just a pastime – it was a source of tranquility and independence,” she said.

On her attachment at Cleveland Clinic last January, Soong said the experience allowed her to immerse herself in the world of paediatric cardiology.

“My uncle, who resides in the US, sent me a link to the International Physician Observership Programme that he learnt about from his friend. I was interested, and after some research, I decided to apply for it,” she said.

Soong added that during her stint, she witnessed firsthand the exceptional care provided by the medical centre’s medical professionals, from critical care practices to open-heart surgeries.

She said the experience reinforced her passion for paediatrics and deepened her commitment to making a difference in the lives of others.

As she looks towards the future, Soong, who is awaiting the start of her housemanship, remains steadfast in her pursuit of professional growth, with plans to specialise in her chosen field while prioritising personal well-being and happiness.

To those aspiring to pursue medicine, she had this to say: “Follow your passion and chase your dreams with determination. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and never lose sight of the reasons why you chose this journey in the first place.”

Hoi Kei, 22, a student in Kuala Lumpur, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. For updates on the BRATs programme, go to facebook.com/niebrats.

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