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Beacon of Hope: AFLAME Student Award Winner for Underprivileged Healthcare and Education Advocacy

15 Mar 2024

Inaugurated in 2012, the Aflame Student Award recognises the graduating individual from IMU who exemplifies compassion and leadership in community service. This acknowledgment highlights the importance of nurturing humane values and behaviours in these students, with the aim of reinforcing their dedication to such ideals.


This year (2024), the Aflame Student Award goes to a medical student, Silvia Teow Su Quinn. Silvia’s passion in community service blossomed during her time at IMU.


This zeal for the society started when she realized how privileged she was to be in her position, and that it’s in the hands of the people who are privileged to help those that don’t have the same access. This experience has influenced her path by consistently reinforcing the notion that there is always room for further contribution, and that there are countless individuals in need of help. Help comes in many forms, from donations to acts of service to even just speaking out for others and she feels that she has been integrating these aspects into her life.

To begin with, the primary social issues observed in Malaysia include the refugee crisis, poverty, and inadequate accessibility to education and healthcare. This has inspired her to begin her journey in advocating for poverty and lack of accessibility to education and healthcare.


Silvia started her own organisation, Stepping Stone Medics with two other doctors to address these issues. This project represents the largest endeavour she has embarked upon in community engagement. She envisions its international expansion through the recruitment of additional medical students and doctors, aiming to catalyse lasting changes for underprivileged communities.

Zooming into Silvia’s journey with IMU Cares, she has been proactively taking part in various community projects such as Kampung Rengit Project, Little Flower Learning Centre and IMU Cares COVID Humanitarian Aid. The core objective of these community endeavors is to extend crucial support in healthcare and education, ultimately fostering the growth and development of underprivileged communities for the long term.

“IMU Cares plays a role as a vessel to give me and other students the opportunities to carry out our own projects and reach out to underprivileged communities. There was a lot of independence given to us so that we could help people the way we wanted to and felt best.”

“IMU Cares as a university office for community engagement is devoted to carrying out humanitarian acts of service and always assisted us whenever we encountered any problems and it really taught me a lot in terms of leadership and organising my own projects in the future.”

Life is not a bed of roses, there are always highs and lows when time goes by. Sharing about the obstacles which Silvia came across, “One of the challenges that I face, and continue to face while helping others is definitely the limitation of resources. There is so much you want to do, but so little opportunity as a young solo medical student. This is where the power of community outreach comes in and you’ll realise that there are so many people who want to fight for the same cause as you.”


Through these connections, she has forged numerous friendships within the activist community, each encounter serving as a wellspring of inspiration. Their unwavering dedication fuels her resolve to persist in this noble pursuit, even in the face of adversity. It’s the tenacity to persevere and the unwavering focus on the potential positive impact that one can bestow upon a community that guides her through the darkest of moments.


Balancing academic excellence with impactful community engagement is no small feat. Recognising the utmost importance of these two aspects has significantly improved her time management. With academics and community engagement projects ranking as her top priorities, she establishes deadlines and diligently ensures tasks are completed for both endeavors. However, Silvia emphasizes the necessity of realism when setting these deadlines, as attempting to juggle too many tasks simultaneously risks compromising the quality of her work in both areas.


She does acknowledge her capabilities as a student and adeptly manages the commitments accordingly, ensuring that her community projects remain uncompromised by academic obligations. “Essentially, if I want to help more people in the future, I’ll have to graduate and be a good doctor first, so they are both equally important to me!”

AFLAME Student Award Winner

During IMU’s University Day on 8 March 2023, Silvia Teow Su Quinn was the winner of the Aflame Student Award and awarded RM1,000 cash along with a certificate and the Aflame trophy.


As the winner of the Aflame Student Award, Silvia is allowed to nominate an organisation as the beneficiary of the RM 5,000 prize money to support their work to empower society. This year, Pertubuhan Viva Palestina Malaysia is the recipient of this donation. The organisation delivers aid during the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Hence, the amount received will be utilised on families who need help in Gaza.

Interviewed and written by Dr Tong Wai Chin (Community Engagement and Sustainability)

Related article: Igniting Hope, Transforming Communities: Students Leading in Community Service

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