My friend once asked me: “What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?” I cried before answering the question as I remembered the time when there were so many doubts and uncertainties. Nevertheless, I made it through and I am now sitting somewhere at Sunway University chatting with my friends.
I come from an ordinary family in a small town where no one speaks English as their first language but Hakka as a native language. Since young, I was not a straight As student, not the smartest student, nor the most active student. I was just an ordinary student with big dreams. No one told me that I could choose my dream university or choose my dream course. They just told me to follow the path that my cousins have taken as there is a guarantee that I could graduate from university without straining my family’s finances. Due to the financial burden that my family had, my parents only had one simple wish for me which is that their only daughter could graduate from a university in Malaysia.
But I always wanted more. I believed with a little more extra effort and luck, I might have the chance to change my life and my future. After completing SPM, I promised myself that I would be the one to choose my own path by going to a private university to continue with a medical biotechnology degree instead of my parents being the ones who decide where I shall continue. When I refused to go to STPM, I was actually full of worry and fear. I did not know if I could actually get a scholarship and go to university. I would also have let my parents down if I could not secure a scholarship for my degree course as their only wish for me is just to graduate as a degree holder.
However, before I went down the safer route with a course I was not interested in, I wanted to try and challenge myself to actually study what I was interested in. I knew that getting out of my comfort zone might make a difference. After doing multiple research for a scholarship, I found out about The Star Education Fund. I started to prepare all the relevant documents needed, application emails and applied for the scholarship. It was definitely not an easy process for me as there was no one to guide me through the application stage, interview stage and so on. Thanks to The Star Education Fund, I am now entering my final year of medical biotechnology at Sunway University, and I can now proudly say that I have nailed it and fulfilled my dream. I did not let anyone else down including my family and myself.
Sunway University, a place filled with knowledgeable lecturers, kind and caring friends, all the people that I have met so far is truly a blessing. It may sound corny but I am truly thankful for all the things that have happened, all the people that I have met. On my first day of orientation, I decided to join more clubs and societies in my university life as I wanted to focus not only on learning but also on extracurricular activities to improve my soft and hard skills. Hence, I applied for Sunway Student Ambassadors a few hours before the deadline. I might not be the perfect candidate compared to others but I am beyond grateful because they gave me a chance to join them, and be a part of a bunch of amazingly fun and smart people. After 2 years in SSA, I am currently the Director of the Pals Department and continue to give back to society with my own ability by working with a team of cutie Pals. Watching the children in the orphanage enjoy the activities we arranged for them, watching them improve their English level bit by bit, all the hardships faced, makes me feel rewarded. Until now, I am still very grateful to be part of SSA, to meet lifelong friends, to meet those outstanding seniors whom I truly admire, and to meet my better self at the age of 22.
And, here is my advice to my 18-year-old self. Do not worry about the future, it is okay to feel lost sometimes but never give up on yourself. God will give the best plan for you at the right time. All you need to do is just study hard, work hard, be kind, and be bold. Let the star shine on its own.
This is #MySunwayStory, thank you for reading until here
Chai Kai Li
BS(c) Medical Biotechnology
The Star Education Fund