SINTOK: Zuraida Yaacob was in tears as her blind parents hugged her for press photographers to snap their pictures.
Her tears of joy continued flowing when reporters interviewed her on her achievement of graduating with an honours degree in Tourism Management from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) here yesterday.
Zuraida, 23, who comes from a poor family in Kelantan, said yesterday was the happiest day of her life.
“I came here to study hard so that I can change my family’s destiny,” said the young woman who used to walk 45 minutes to school from her village in Selising, Pasir Putih in Kelantan.
She said she aimed to work in the tourism sector with the ultimate goal of opening her own resort one day.
Zuraida, who is now working as a supermarket cashier in Kota Baru, said she would seek as much experience as possible and combine them with what she had learned to achieve her dream.
She said she took a loan from the National Higher Education Fund for her studies.
Zuraida, who is the younger of two siblings, said she was indebted to her parents for her achievement and would strive to make their life more comfortable.
Her parents, Yaacob Daud and Bedah Mamat, both in their 50s, and more than a dozen other relatives came all the way in a van and two cars from Kelantan for her graduation.
Yaacob, who was born blind and earns about RM300 monthly by giving massages and selling massage oil, said he was elated with his daughter’s achievement and hoped she would succeed in life.
Bedah, who became blind after an illness when she was five years old, said she was proud of Zuraida who received her scroll from the Sultan of Kedah at UUM’s 16th convocation yesterday.
Among the other UUM graduates this year were a mother and daughter team.
Nor Hayati Ahmad, 48, received a doctorate in banking while her daughter Izma Azrina Khirudin, 22, graduated with an honours degree in the same field.
Nor Hayati, a mother of six, said she had earlier joked with Izma of studying at UUM together only to find it become a reality.
Nor Hayati worked in a bank for 12 years before joining UUM in 1996 and is now a deputy dean at the university.
Izma, who will start a two-week training as an investment share executive at a bank on Tuesday, said she was glad she could graduate together with her mother.
She said her father was the branch manager of a bank and she often sought her parents' advice during her studies.
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