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Advocacy for Education Led IMU’s Medical Student to Winning Aflame Student Award 2021

26 Mar 2021

Established in 2012, the Aflame Student Award honours IMU‘s graduating students who have demonstrated exceptional endeavours in the practice of healthcare and community service. The aim of the award is to emphasise, reinforce and enhance the importance of humane principles practices among these students. This year, the Aflame Student Award goes to a medical student, Nur Nabila binti Nasharuddin. An advocate for equity in tertiary education, she was one of the earliest contributors to ProjectEd Malaysia, a non-governmental organisation which empowers underprivilege students to pursue tertiary education. Aside from being a volunteer in various outreach programmes and community projects, she strives to empower and educate the public through her health-policy writings and digital advocacy. Her on-the-ground activities involvement include giving out food to the homeless in the Chow Kit area 3 times a week with Yayasan Salam Chow Kit, outreach programmes to the Kampung Orang Asli Hulu Kemensah and Adolescent’s Health Awareness Campaign in schools. Involvement in these activities have given her the necessary experiences and perspectives to share her thoughts through her writings and presentations that could impact changes in policies, benefitting the greater community. We manage to catch up with Nabila to listen to the story behind her achievements. Your portfolio is quite extensive: health-policy writing, volunteerism, mentor and contributor to a few students under the ProjectEd Malaysia. What drove you to be so active in community work?

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”, a quote that deeply resonates with me as my parents have always emphasised the importance of education in life. Coming from a humble background, I am grateful for the opportunities in my life, and it is only when I continue my tertiary education that I realised it is not an equal playing field for everyone. This motivates me to help provide similar opportunities to other students and peers through ProjectEd, which was founded by a close friend of mine.

When he pitched the idea, he talked about his own experience in looking for a scholarship and how difficult it is to continue tertiary education without strong financial support in Malaysia. And I reminisced on the fact that my father thanked me for getting a scholarship as he could not support my tertiary education in a private university without the financial assistance that my scholarship provider gave. Being a beneficiary myself, I was intrigued by the ability to contribute and change someone’s life, however small that may look like, and that motivates me to be strongly involved in ProjectEd and education. Could you share with us about the most memorable event/incident in your service to the community and why was that moment so memorable to you?

All my voluntary work and beneficiaries that I have met influenced me more than I have expected- all encounters taught me a memorable lesson in life. Interviewing the scholars for ProjectEd to write stories about them on the organisation’s website was memorable as I have the opportunity to learn more about them personally. One scholar mentioned that she was motivated and inspired by me and that she recognised me through social media. The scholar- who was a stranger to me before my interview with her- was motivated and inspired by me and worked hard to get the scholarship ProjectEd was offering. It then dawned upon me that changing someone’s life does not necessarily have to happen in a fixed or direct manner.

I continued writing her story and reverted the final essay to her before publishing it on the website. She cried after reading the essay, saying that she did not realise how much she has achieved and my writing motivated her to be a better version of herself. Little did I know, my unanimated, jumbled words and thoughts can have magical effects on somebody else, and soon, I am determined to do more as this revelation becomes something that is extremely gratifying for me. (More story here: How has IMU helped you in your journey of community work while you were studying here?

Being an IMU student since my foundation studies, IMU, through IMU Cares has actively provided me with a unique experience to volunteer directly and indirectly. Myriads of activities ranging from setting up booths for Chariofare, going for community activities as a part of the curriculum (U4 component in Semester 1 of MBBS), and completing Continuous Professional Development (CPD) – all of this allows me to grow as a person and explore my interest in different community works.

Besides, IMU guides the students by equipping them with different practical abilities and celebrates the achievement in community work in different avenues such as the IMU Humanitarian Conference and Aflame Award- creating a positive culture for its students in doing community work.

Finally, any words of advice for your fellow IMU students who are looking to be active in community work?
Echoing Winston Churchill’s thought, we indeed make a life by what we give, and community work benefits not only the community or the beneficiaries but the volunteers as well. Finding your genuine passion and fighting for it allows us to be a better version of ourselves, builds our character, and perhaps, make the world a little better for everyone, including you. We might not be wealthy, strong, or free enough to help everyone, but with a bit of creativity, each one of us has something to offer, and no act of kindness is too small to make a difference.

An inspiring story indeed! We thank Nabila for sharing her story with us, and we wish her the best of success in her future endeavours.

At an awards ceremony held during IMU’s University Day on 26 March 2021 at the University’s campus in Bukit Jalil, Nur Nabila was awarded RM1,000 cash along with a certificate and the Aflame trophy. As the winner of the Aflame Student Award, Nur Nabila is given the opportunity to nominate an organisation as the beneficiary of a RM 5,000 prize money to support their work to empower society. This year,  the recipient of this donation is ProjectEd Malaysia, a non-profit organisation registered under The Registry of Societies Malaysia (ROS) which advocates the provision of  financial assistance for tertiary education to underprivileged communities especially for B40 students.

Congratulations and Keep Up the Good Work!

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