“Time flies”, people always say it, but never have I ever felt the phrase so vividly. Joining IMU’s Medical Biotechnology (MB) programme in September 2020, I embarked on a challenging route to complete a 3-year honours degree alongside 8 fellow cohort mates. And soon, we will become graduates in November 2023, beginning a new chapter in our lives.
My journey at IMU was never how I imagined it to be. No huge lecture halls, no large projectors or whiteboards, and no busy chattering atmosphere during breaks. Most of the time, it is just me and my computer in Teams meetings for synchronised learning sessions or just me going through the pre-recorded lectures on the University’s eLearning portal. I entered university during the mid-pandemic, and to date, I can still recall the difficult transition from conventional classrooms to online classes where the boundaries between study time and personal life are blurred.
Having no fixed weekly timetables further increased the struggle to adapt as rigid study routines could no longer be implemented. Juggling between classes, written assignments, presentations, tutorials/workshops, while preparing for class tests and end-of-semester exams was also no easy task. There were days when the workload seemed crushing, but I held on to a simple yet powerful truth: bad times do not last, just as happy times come and go.
My resilience was tested, but I was fortunate to have found solace in the unwavering support of IMU’s dedicated educators and mentors. They were easily reachable when guidance was needed, offering a virtual shoulder during challenging times.
As I progressed from one semester to the next, I began developing important skills like time management and multi-tasking, as well as flexible study schedules that worked around scheduled learning hours. These skills enabled me to meet tight deadlines and eventually made the commitment to some extra-curricular activities possible. Although physical events on campus were limited during the pandemic, IMU’s clubs and societies remained active through virtual platforms, enriching my university experience.
The IMU MB faculty have also designed a comprehensive curriculum. Beyond core science modules like molecular biology, immunology, microbiology, cell and tissue culture, omics technology and so on, the MB programme encompasses modules in areas of entrepreneurship, bioinformatics, healthcare data analytics, quality management and many more. This enables students to develop in a well-rounded and up-to-date manner.
Tremendous effort has also been made by the lecturers to ensure that MB students could practice important laboratory skills despite the restrictions in the number of face-to-face classes permitted when the pandemic was at its peak. Additionally, our lecturers strive to make learning activities engaging through the use of interactive platforms like Kahoot, Quizizz, and Jamboard. The wealth of knowledge that I have gained throughout these years is undeniably immeasurable.
IMU is undoubtedly a transformative university that prepares students for the working world in terms of knowledge, technical skills, and soft skills. Having a compulsory research project and internship module to complete in the MB programme at higher semesters further allowed me to implement what I have learned in lower semesters while facilitating the development of my research skills and mindset. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to learn as MB is a broad field of science.
I look forward to obtaining a research and development career in an innovative field to gain some research work experience and upskill myself so that one day I would be able to bridge the gap that I perceive between myself and experienced researchers.
Advice for Future Students
I encourage you to stay curious and resilient. Do not underestimate your own potential. Embrace your journey at IMU, both its ups and downs, and remember that every experience, no matter how difficult, contributes to your growth.
Written by Goh Wen Xi, winner of the Tun Zahir Merit Award given to a graduating student who has shown outstanding academic excellence in his/her graduating cohort.