For 113 students, their everlasting dream of enrolling in the course of their choice has finally come true, thanks to the Star Education Fund.
It is likely that many of them will not have the opportunity to pursue higher education without a scholarship because the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their families’ finances.
This year’s awardees include Oni Adelina Malik Sivolizam, Asariel John George Kennett, Leung Van Jun, Prince Shufi Sfri, Wan Kah Ming and Phithia Mun Palo.
For 22-year-old Vithia, failing to get a scholarship meant giving up her ambition to become a doctor because the family didn’t have the means to support her studies.
Although she had an excellent GPA of 4.0 and straight as in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), the 22-year-old failed to secure a place at a public university to study medicine.
Thanks to a scholarship from the Star Education Fund, I was able to study for a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) at Quest International University Perak.
Describing her working father as a “hardworking hero”, the girl from Kampar, Perak, said her mother was a housewife.
“Due to our financial circumstances, this scholarship was the only way I could turn things around and reduce the family burden,” she said, adding that she prepared for the selection interview by researching medical facts and common scholarship interview questions online.
“The questions asked during the interview really tested our critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
“I very much appreciate Star Media Group (SMG) for giving me the opportunity to continue my studies in a field that I am interested in.
“If not,” she said, “my dream of becoming a doctor would have been dashed.”
The motion control commands also affected the family of another Star Education Fund recipient, Auni Adlina.
“The pandemic has severely affected my mother’s clothing business,” she said, adding that the company was the family’s only source of income.
Her parents were already struggling to pay the bills and although they said they would do everything they could to fund her studies, the 18-year-old “didn’t feel well” adding to her burden.
Therefore, she worked hard to perform well in her SPM exam and excelled in it. She was looking for scholarship opportunities when she found the Star Education Fund. Now, Oni Adelina is studying for a diploma in 3D Animation Design at UCSI University.
“Growing up, I saw how people with privileged backgrounds always get a better education. Many in my high school were able to continue their education in private universities where their families could afford the exorbitant tuition fees.
“With this scholarship, I can also study something I really like. I don’t have to worry about my fees and I can focus on my passion.
“Maybe one day I can open my own animation studio,” she said, adding that if she went to a public university, she might not get a chance to study animation.
Accounting and Finance
As for Asriel, 20, he said he does not expect to receive the scholarship a second time because he completed A-levels on the same scholarship.
Encouraged by his single mother and A-level department head, he tried to apply again and succeeded.
This scholarship was the last resort to get into a private university so yes, I would be very disappointed if I didn’t get it.
“Maybe I decided to go ahead and re-apply for this scholarship and more the following year,” he added.
Now, Selangorian is studying at Sunway University for a degree in Financial Economics.
“I am now able to pursue my desired degree at a reputable university and I believe this will open doors for me in the financial sector,” he said.
Prince Shufi, 20, said he applied for this scholarship to help his mother, a housewife, and his father, an electronic relay driver.
“After I finished my degree at University of Malaya (UM), I started looking for scholarships with my parents because I really needed financial help to continue my studies,” said the second of four children.
He said he was both happy and nervous when he received the email inviting him for the scholarship interview.
Describing himself as a “shy introvert,” he said he took the time to prepare for the interview by reading about how to boost his confidence and make the “best version” of himself — which included getting a nice haircut and wearing his best clothes.
All that hard work paid off when he was offered a scholarship to pursue a BA (Hons) in Accounting and Finance at Taylor University.
Without the scholarship, the Malacca native said he would have to work and save before he even thought about studying.
Van Jun, 19, said it was a proud moment when he received the news that he had been awarded the Star Education Fund Scholarship, allowing him to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering (Hons) at Monash University Malaysia.
“I am now studying mechatronics engineering at the university of my choice,” said the younger of two children from Miri, Sarawak.
More importantly, he added, his mother no longer had to stress how to send her son for his higher education.
Getting a scholarship was high on his list of priorities even when he was still in high school.
In fact, he applied for seven different scholarships and was grateful that he got this.
Van John said his father died in 2013 of heart failure and his mother became the only breadwinner working at a local church.
His brother, Leung Van Geet, 21, also received a scholarship and is currently studying medicine at UM.
“My brother was my biggest inspiration to apply for scholarships.
He added, “Being a scholarship recipient, he guided me on how to apply for scholarships and answered questions during the interview process.”
After losing his parents to illness while he was still a teenager, Kah Ming’s second brother and older brother took on the role of breadwinner for the family.
Unfortunately, his brother was laid off during the pandemic and only recently found a new job.
He said money was tight and he was already planning to get a job and save for a year before starting college.
But he said the pandemic prevented him from finding a suitable job after graduating with his degree in May.
The 21-year-old said instead of settling into a low-paying job, he decided to continue studying for a degree.
Kah Ming applied for and received the scholarship after starting his BA in Psychology at Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) in June.
Since he no longer had to worry about how he would finance his studies, Kah Ming was doing better in his studies now than when he was studying for his degree.
“Being a scholarship recipient has definitely made my academic life easier as I can focus on studying without being distracted by financial hardship, which was a problem during my diploma days.”
On why he chose this course, Kah Ming said it was so that he could give back to society by “understanding how the human mind works and functions”.