Varsity dream realised after years of toil

Finally here: Jenifa (second from left) with friends at Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

JOHOR BARU: Despite having to take up part-time jobs since she was a teen, Jenifa Francis never lost sight of her dream to one day enter university.

The 21-year-old from Kluang realised from a young age that the only way to change her family’s fate was to work hard and pursue her studies until tertiary level.

The eldest of two siblings, Jenifa took up whatever odd jobs she could find from the age of 15 to help her parents, who both worked at an oil palm plantation.

“After finishing my PT3, I decided to work at a stationery shop for a few months while waiting for my results.

“While studying for my SPM and STPM, I would spend my weekends working at a nearby vegetable farm, where I earned about RM20 a day,” she told The Star.

Jenifa finally realised her dream in October last year when she got accepted into Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s (UMS) Labuan campus.

“I know that I cannot take things for granted. If I fail in my studies I may not be able to bring my family out of poverty,” she said.

“Initially, I was not accepted into any public university. I was devastated as I felt all my hard work had been in vain.

“Thankfully, after appealing for the second time, I got a place in UMS,” said Jenifa, who is pusuing a Bachelor’s degree in International Finance and Economics.

She hopes to one day give her parents the retirement they deserve.

“My parents are extremely hardworking and have never hesitated to take up extra jobs to make sure we had enough.

“My father suffered serious injuries when I was 12 while working at the oil palm plantation, ever since then he could no longer take on heavy duties.

“However, he still managed to find odd jobs at the plantation elsewhere to support the family.

“He would leave the house as early as 6am and come back after midnight just so we could have a little extra,” she said.

Jenifa added that apart from her parents, she was also blessed to have the support of her tuition teacher and a social worker who had been helping her with her studies.

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