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Benjamin Chay: A UNICEF Young Leader’s Experience Studying Foundation in Science at IMU

26 Mar 2024

Greetings fellow IMU comrades! I’m Chay Wen Jun (Benjamin) of FIS323. It’s a great pleasure to be able to share with the likes of you my current journey in IMU. Come, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.


After my SPM examinations in March of 2023, I signed off on my most memorable schooling journey. During those 6 months of rest and excitement, I reflected deeply on my subsequent career choices. It was arduous as the path I chose would heavily influence and determine the shape of my career. Did I make the right decision to join IMU’s Foundation in Science (FIS) programme? Let’s explore the answer to this question.


Career alignment with my values is essential to developing my character which consists of kindness, tenacity, and a relentless pursuit for the community’s betterment. My frame of thought was to enter a college that specialises in healthcare with a particular focus on community engagement and professionalism. Many whispered but IMU’s comprehensive programme grabbed my attention.


Now halfway through Semester 2 (how time flies), I better understand the programme’s holistic structure. For me, the blend of assignments, projects and tests emphasizes not just on academic prowess but leadership, communication, and critical thinking skills all of which are imperative in any working environment. Throughout the semesters, I was able to weave networks of friends that serve as supportive pillars for one another when in need, spanning even beyond my cohort.


As a student, I take charge of both my studies and extracurricular commitments. As a UNICEF Young Leader Alumni, I was blessed with the opportunity to advocate for the nation’s children with a focus on mental health.

My team completed a budget pitch to the Ministry of Finance on creating safe spaces for marginalised children in underdeveloped communities. Although the budget wasn’t approved, we were still able to organise our projects on a smaller scale at Idaman Apartment. To encourage children to practice healthy and productive coping mechanisms, we collaborated with various NGOs to bring them activities such as Art Therapy, Gardening and Sports Day.

To showcase our efforts, we organised UNICEF’s Young Leaders Showcase back in November of 2023. Being the Director of the showcase, I was put in the hot seat to handle a multitude of tasks on tight deadlines. With guidance and cooperation from my mentors and fellow young leaders, we were able to streamline the tasks and pull off the event which saw nearly 130 participants in attendance. The event became an inflexion point that allowed me to grow and learn as both a student and a leader.

IMU is nothing short of opportunities. Being selected as a class rep gave me the chance to work with talented and smart individuals in handling and coordinating our batch.

With much appreciation to Prof Khoo, Dr Tong, Dr Fyfa & Ms Khairul from IMU Cares, I was also able to organise UNICEF’s Youth Advocacy Training with my partner, Khairiah as UNICEF Champion Trainers and as an IMU FIS student to develop 80 aspiring youth advocates on the framework and values of an effective and compassionate advocate in IMU itself. From the budget to the showcase, I was able to apply the lessons to this workshop, making it a success.

This was followed in succession with IMU’s Go Green Campaign Launching Event in which I moderated a forum on creating a carbon-neutral campus alongside a group of reputable and esteemed panelists. I was excited about the concept of a carbon-neutral campus and learnt various insights on renewable energy and nature-based solutions to name a few.

Upon entering FIS, I set my compass northbound to get into medicine, my primary undergraduate option. I was unsure of what I could do growing up. Am I talented enough to be an engineer? Should I be a lawyer instead? I pondered and took a long look at my hands. These hands should be used to help people, one at a time. This is my Northstar, to help others, be kind, and empathise. My passion for medicine grew with age and experience, and so did my interest in biology. I was fascinated, and entranced by what organisms can do, why they do and how they do. The mind and the body are such magical creations which we take for granted every day. It then became my mission to preserve the health of others, and to inspire a healthy community.


Coming back, was IMU the right choice for me?


Indeed, it was. And to you, my dearest reader. Be brave in what you seek and dare to dream big. Fail. Fail over and over again because the only way is up. Seize the opportunities around you be it in FIS, Medicine or life. Try and experience various things. Most importantly, learn critically, tenaciously and passionately.

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