UTAR mentor and students walk tall at graduation

One for the album: Seow (second left) with her three students (from left) Khong, Loh and Ching.

KAMPAR: Graduating on the same day as their mentor was the best gift for three Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) students.

Ching Ying Tian, 28, Khong Eng Mun, 26, and Loh How Zheng, 28, who received their Master of Philosophy, had just witnessed their supervisor, Seow Ai Na, 57, go up on stage to get her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) scroll.

The three students had been under the tutelage of Seow since their undergraduate days, and they later continued to pursue their master’s degree under Seow’s supervision.

Khong, from Ipoh, said she was elated as Seow was the best lecturer she could ask for.

“I followed in her footsteps to further my education,” she said here yesterday.

Ching said Seow was like a mother figure to all three of them, guiding them accordingly.

“I tried my best to complete my viva thesis so that I could graduate together with Seow in March,” said Ching from Kedah.

All three of them would be taking a step further by applying for their doctorates.

Seow, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Business and Finance, said graduating alongside her students was a precious moment for her.

“I am happy that the three trusted me to be their supervisor, although at that time I only had my master’s degree,” she said.

The four were among the 556 students who received their scrolls from the university’s council chairman Tan Sri Dr Ting Chew Peh, council members Tan Sri Chor Chee Heung and Datuk Ng Wan Peng, as well as the university’s Education Foundation Board of Trustees member, Datuk Lee Leck Cheng.

In total, 2,316 students would receive their scrolls during the 38th convocation ceremony, held over three days.

For Nur Sabrina Mohammad Sarthar Khan, 24, educating her 67-year-old grandmother to reduce her salt and sugar intake was one of the most challenging tasks for the Bachelor of Science (Honours) Dietetics graduate.

Nur Sabrina said it took her about three months to persuade her grandmother and other family members to eat and live healthy.

“But I did not give up, because I know for a fact that diet can help make a person healthier and happier.

“Seeing my family reduce their salt and sugar intake drastically and avoid fried food is one of my greatest achievements,” said Nur Sabrina, who would be joining a private hospital in Rawang soon.

Meanwhile, friends Goodhope Hance Mkaro, 42, and Justus Gratian Mwemezi, 41, who both graduated with a PhD, said UTAR brought them closer as they were studying at different universities back in their home country of Tanzania.

“While studying in the field, we used to exchange notes and talk about our work, and we really became good friends. However, now we have to part ways again,” said Justus.

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery graduate Wong Lee Chee, 25, said she always had the passion to help people and could never see anyone in pain.

Wong said before she pursued her degree, her grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“While I was doing my degree and during my breaks, I used to follow him to see the doctor, and when an explanation was given, I could understand the diagnosis better.

“I hope to specialise in family medicine so that I can take care of patients outside as well as look after my family at home,” she added.

UTAR chancellor Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik also conferred the university’s Honorary Doctor of Science to Prof John Edward Joshua Rasko AO, a clinical haematologist, pathologist, and scientist from Australia whose research focuses on gene and stem cell therapy.

Dr Ling also conferred the UTAR Emeritus Professor to academician Dr Cheong Soon Keng.

During his speech earlier, UTAR president Prof Datuk Dr Ewe Hong Tat told the graduates that they must show their appreciation and gratitude to their parents and loved ones.

“Your parents and your loved ones have waited many years since your school days to see you graduate from university.

“They have walked alongside you as pillars of strength and given you their loving support all these years,” he said.

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