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Award-Winning Graduate: My Journey as an IMU Dentistry Student

25 Jul 2018

When it was time to pick my career, dentistry was not my first choice. I did not possess any mesmerizing, life changing encounters with a heroic dentist. In fact, dentist ranks third place in my list of deepest horrors next to werewolves and Chucky. So, why dentistry, you might ask? Choosing a career that will define the rest of my life was the first but also the most impactful decision I had to make for myself as an adult. It is ubiquitous for secondary school leavers to be conflicted at this juncture. I was no exception. Eventually, I settled for dentistry because it is a job that pays well and offers stability as well as security. I did not speak with dentists to gain a better insight before committing myself. After I dove headlong into dentistry, it wasn’t long before I discovered that my initial perception of dentistry was wide off the mark. Dentistry is a career that demands good manual dexterity, astute clinical reasoning, sound decision making, suave business management and excellent communication skills. Fortunately, I relish in giving patients the single most potent tool to be happy in life, a broad, genuine smile. And this gift has ignited my passion for dentistry ever since. However, we should not leave our future to chance. It might have turned out well for me, but the opposite result is equally likely.

Hence my advice is to abandon any preconceived notion, assess your career options judiciously by speaking to professionals in your intended field. Passion does not come knocking at your front door. You have to actively look for it. Once you find your passion, develop it into an obsession. All the successful people in the world are obsessed with their craft, such as the likes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. Obsession might come across as a very crude behavior, but it is the driving force behind the mastery of your work.  Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.

My journey began in a cloud of uncertainty. When I was about to embark on my tertiary education, my family was facing a tumultuous period. My father, the sole breadwinner was retired. Another setback hit when I failed to attain 9A+ in the SPM, the requirement of attaining the JPA scholarship. I took full responsibility for my failure to obtain the JPA scholarship and worked hard to look for another solution. Thankfully, I managed to secure partial sponsorship from Kuok Foundation.  My uncle too chipped in a huge sum to make my aspiration possible again. It was at this point that I decided that this was a one-way ticket and I can’t afford to second guess midway through. This experience taught me to own up to my own failures. Only then can you be the captain of your own ship and steer your life towards the future than you envision. Why did I choose to study dentistry at IMU? My parents was very determined to get what is best for their children. My father is a firm believer that education is the most powerful weapon against poverty, and he intends to give me the most effective weapon by enrolling me in IMU, one of the most reputable private healthcare universities in Malaysia. The sacrifices my father has made for the sake of my education are too great, and I intend to honor those sacrifices by becoming the best in my field and repaying my family in spades.

Pursuing dentistry is not a walk in the park. It is a marathon that demands perseverance and mental fortitude of the highest level. The workload is an amalgamation of lectures, self-study, lab works and clinical practices.

My toughest time came during Semesters 7-9, when research project was thrown into the mix. The pressure was overbearing, but I pushed on nonetheless because at the heart of it all, I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Being able to change a patient’s frown or grimace into a smile gives me satisfaction that spurs me past my limit time and time again. A rule of thumb to strive in the School of Dentistry, be inquisitive. Learn from everyone around you, be it your lecturers, batch mates or dental nurses. Being observant, beginning your revision early and applying your theoretical knowledge in practical situations are the core principles of my study plan. As Confucius aptly put, “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember. I do and I understand”. The extra-curricular activities that I most fondly remember are taking on the roles of IMU Swimming Club Secretary, member of the organising committee for My Father’s Home community service project, organiser and participant of a student exchange programme in Mahidol University, Bangkok as an elective. I firmly believe that such activities are pivotal in developing our character to be a responsible, capable member of the future workforce. Achieving the right balance between study and other activities is a herculean task.  Truth to be told, I faltered on numerous occasions. The fear of falling behind in studies had stopped me from engaging in many other enriching activities. The few activities that I did managed to undertake had provided me knowledge, experiences and skills that cannot be gathered behind the closed doors of a classroom. And this realisation had made me even more rueful over my missed opportunities.  Do learn from my mistake. Pull yourself away from your studies more frequently, step out and explore. Do not wait for everything to be perfect before you decide to enjoy your life. Five years has passed since I started my studies at IMU and I graduated with my dentistry degree on 30 June 2018. It came as a genuine surprise when I was notified of my awards, as each of my colleagues is exceptional in their own right. Credits to them for offering stiff, healthy competition to me. It motivates me to always go a mile further in my endeavors. I feel very honored to be chosen as the recipient the awards from the School of Dentistry, IMU, the place that has nurtured me and cultivate my abilities as a dentist. My esteemed lecturer, Dr Pravin once said that success is not a destination but a journey, and this has inspired me to look at awards as a catapult for further achievements.

Awards won at 30 June 2018 Convocation

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr Sulaiman Daud Merit Award

Distinguished Performance in Phase II

 Budding Entrepreneur Award

By reflecting on the past, we could discover better pathway to the future. I plan to attach myself to different specialist clinics to understand what each specialty entails before making up my mind about which master’s programme to devote myself into. I would also like to utilise this interim break between convocation and my government posting to spend time with my family and reconnect with friends whom I might have lost sight of during the pursuit of my education.

Last but not least, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who have contributed to my achievements today. Of particular, I am immensely grateful to my parents, my uncle, Kuok Foundation, PTPTN for making this possible in the first place; my lecturers for imparting me with invaluable knowledge and experience; and my friends for the memories that I will cherish for years to come. My journey goes on and hopefully one day my journey will intertwine with yours. I look forward to hearing about your wonderful exploits!

Written by: Ho Jan Yang Related article: IMU Celebrates Convocation Ceremony and the Installation of its Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor

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