KUANTAN: When Hajar Nur Asyiqin Abdul Zubir was shortlisted for the Kijang Emas Scholarship, the 18-year-old realised it was lifetime opportunity to turn her dreams to study chemistry at the Oxford University in England a reality.
High in confidence, Hajar Nur Asyiqin attended a three-day programme by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in Kuala Lumpur, which included group and individual assessments, before she was announced as among the four recipients from 25 finalists.
Youngest of five siblings, the former SMK Abdul Rahman Talib (Smart) student said she gave her best to be picked, knowing such an opportunity rarely knock twice and it was her best chance to live her dream.
"I did not want to miss the chance or later regret for not being chosen especially after going through a rigid online interview and essay test. My family provided the necessary motivation and prayed hard that everything went on smoothly.
"When I received the award from BNM governor (Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz) last April, I knew that I have been handed a golden opportunity and must make the best of it. I want to further my studies in the field of chemicals as I realise it has a huge potential in Malaysia," said Hajar Nur Asyiqin, who is currently doing her A-level's at Tuanku Ja'afar College in Mantin, Negri Sembilan, during a press conference organised at Smart here yesterday.
Hajar Nur Asyiqin, who scored 9A+s in her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination last year, said she learnt about BNM's Kijang Emas Scholarship from a facilitator when she attended Projek Kalsom, a motivational programme for underprivileged students in the country.
"Some of the facilitators were Malaysian students who were studying in top universities in England, including Oxford. I did not know much about the universities but was impressed when the facilitators shared stories about studying there and the campus facilities.
"Since I loved to spend time in the lab conducting experiments and observing their reactions, I knew that going to Oxford would certainly be an accomplishment as the university has also produced some top and respected leaders," said Hajar Nur Asyiqin, who enjoys horse riding during her free time.
The undergraduate from Kempadang Makmur, Peramu here, who also plays the violin, said besides studying, she actively represented the school in quiz challenges and spelling competitions.
Her housewife-mother Bibi Aishah Abdullah, 48, said she and her meat supplier-husband Abdul Zubir Mat Ali, 53, were glad that their youngest daughter had also emulated her siblings’ footsteps by securing a scholarship to study overseas.
"Nothing came easy but after years of hard work and dedication, I am glad that my daughter has ensured herself a promising future. We hope she will do well and go on to make the family and country proud," she said.
Meanwhile SK Smart school principal Bahtiar Sanusi said the school was delighted with Hajar Nur Asyiqin's accomplishments as she was the first student from the school to win the award.
Selected Kijang Emas scholars are given the freedom to pursue any field of study at top universities in any country of their choice.
I'm actually super exhausted.
March begins with a call I received from JPN, a day before result announcement, saying that I got 9A+ for my SPM. I am indeed very grateful and overjoyed. Alhamdulillah. The days after that follow with scholarship hunting and one of the scholarship I applied for is Kijang Emas Bank Negara scholarship.
So for today's entry, I'll be sharing my experience during the whole assessment, starting from day 1.
I checked in to Lanai Kijang in KL wih my family accompanying me. The place was very nice and there's good food provided there so I suggest not to skip any meals (because I did and I regret it😭). I got a room facing the pool with my roommate, Aqilah who's from Kedah. There's ironing facilities and strong wifi connection in the room as well. Basically, the first day was kind of all leisure and friendly which we had a lot of time to mingle around and be comfortable. All other candidates were very nice and I met some of my AYTR friends too!
After dinner, we were briefed on some policies regarding Kijang scholarship and Kijang Emas scholarship. Kijang scholarship offers a specified courses and there is a bondage to work under Bank Negara depending on the number of your study years. Let's say your study period is 4 years, then 4x2=8 years of working under BNM. For Kijang Emas sch which I applied for, there is no bondage and we are allowed to choose any desired course and place to study. I applied for medicine course at Newcastle University, UK. After the briefing, we were sort into groups and were told to work on group cheers. My group was Kijang Emas 2 consisting of 7 people including me, Asyiqin, Swaathi, Ng, Iman, Ali and Zafran.
This whole day was an assessment based on groupwork. There were 4 sessions and teamworking between us in KE2 was the major key to seize the day. Oh and there were 3 assessors in the room watching us while we were doing our task. The first session was a study case.
Basically, we have to plan on how to improvise Encik Ali's bookstore based on some of the problems listed. There were roles like Project Management, Finance and Accounting, Change Management and Inventory Management. Me and Asyiqin were the change management so we presented on different initiatives we could work on while cooperating with the finance department as the allocation given was only 20 000.
Second session was a study case too and a bit tougher than the previous one because it was more practical. We have to plan a convocation carnival which we have to show the layout and carried out some calculations to find the profit margin. It was a good exposure to me, anyways.
After that, we had lunch with assessors from other group which we were advised not to be too quiet.
The reason to that is to give a good impression to other assessors as they are going to judge ourselves as well.
During the third session, all the Kijang Emas groups are gathered in the same assessment hall. We were told to sort ourselves based on our desired courses as we were going to make a presentation, promoting our courses to the assessors. Being in the medicine group, I got to work with candidates from other groups but I suited myself real quick that time (prolly bcoz we have the same interest haha).
For the last session, we had to get back to our initial group. The task was to build two towers of 50 cm and 20 cm height, connecting each other. We were only given poker cards to work on that. Any form of it would be acceptable as long as they meet the height requirements and connected to each other.
That marked the end of the first day assessment and by the time our bus arrived to Sasana Kijang to fetch us back to Lanai Kijang, I was soooo exhausted and sleepy that I skipped my dinner for a short nap 😭😭.
After dinner, we were going to find out who was going to the next stage and who will not. I dont know why but I was acting pessimistic on that night, having thoughts that I would not make it to the next stage and I even had my stuffs packed up! I was planning on having a tour around the hotel tomorrow or maybe hitting the gym before checking out kahkah.
So Mdm Aireen announced some names which I was not mentioned in and they were instructed to wait outside of the hall. I was calm as I expected it earlier, clapping my hands for the names mentioned BUT THEN after the last name was announced and the hall door was closed shut, Mdm Aireen announced,
"Congratulations, you guys made it to the next stage! And kenapa korang tepuk tangan tadi?"
I WAS DAMN SHOCK MAN! I took some time to digest the whole situation. I was happy but I was also like, damn it! Gotta face individual assessment tomorrow ughhhh. 😫😫
Just like day 2, shortlisted candidates were brought by bus from lanai kijang to Sasana Kijang early in the morning. First thing we had to work on is individual presentation. There were 4 topics and we were asked to choose one to present using a mahjong paper with preparation time of 20 minutes. The presentation itself would be 10 minutes and followed by Q&As. My topic was the most selected one among the candidates which is 'Aptitude vs Attitude. Which is more important in the university.'
After the presentation, those 3 assessors (one is my group assessor while other 2 are assessors from other groups) gave some question from my presentation and proceed to interviewing me about my career option. The questions came out like this
🔅why are you interested in doing surgery and not research? Doing research will also contribute to the nation (Well, I told them that I want to be a cardiothoracic surgeon and I press on my desire to contribute to my nation, but they basically will throw questions and provocations based on what you tell them)
🔅Dengue disease has been around Malaysia for years but Malaysia Ministry of Health has not yet able to find the antidote to put the spread of this disease to an end. Why do you think so?
🔅Between a person who took care of their health but got infected with dengue fever, and a person who dont take care of their diet consumption,lifestyle which leads to cardiovascular diseases, which do u think requires extra attention from doctors for treatments.
🔅Do you think depression as a disease?
🔅If u were to be given Kijang scholarship for accounting, but not medicine, would you take it? (Because I put my second option as accounting).
🔅Do you have any questions for us? ( I asked if there is something that I can improve from myself)
Here's a pic of me at Sasana Kijang, a building made of glasses and looked very exclusive😙