Coming all the way from Bintulu, Sarawak, I’m Samantha Valerie and this is my story. When I was younger, I used to have this dream in me, “When I grow up, I want to study in IMU”. Every time we went for holidays in Kuala Lumpur, we would pass by this one big university, just by the roadside, with a huge signboard written, “International Medical University”.
My thoughts went to, “If I get to study here, I can easily show to my grandparents my university” “Oh Aki (Aki means grandfather in Iban language), that’s my uni! I am studying there!” Well, now look at who made it here! I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Resource Chemistry from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS). As I have always wanted to pursue postgraduate studies, I decided to go out of my comfort zone, and make my childhood dreams come true. I feel so fortunate IMU offers a mixed mode programme, MSc Analytical and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, of which I can experience both coursework and research. This has helped me in sharpening my lab skills and broadening my horizon at the same time!
During my final year of my undergraduate studies, I realized I have a keen interest in drug designs and computational drug discoveries. I find it really interesting on how we can utilise all those software to discover more drugs or even to find new indications for existing drugs. Exciting, isn’t it? And it is good to know that IMU does offer these courses and provides us with the hands-on and workshops.
Despite the pandemic, some parts of the courses, for instance, lab sessions, were still carried out on campus with proper social distancing. I remember spending my weekends in the campus for the lab sessions with Dr Murugesh for the data analysis using the analytical equipment, HPLC. It was really a fun yet challenging experience as I didn’t get the hands-on sessions on this equipment during my undergraduate studies.
Another interesting equipment, the NMR, we have learnt how to analyse the chromatograms which is also a new experience for me because Dr Sagi patiently taught us and explained how to analyse each one of them. However, most of the lessons, discussions and assignments were carried out online, hence, it is mostly based on your own effort, but worry not, hard work would never betray you!
Deciding to further study during a pandemic was one of the biggest decisions I ever made, but I am really glad I did it. I have journeyed along this course for more than one year, and the most memorable experience was definitely, working on my research project. I have expressed my interest in computational drug discoveries and luckily, I was able to work on similar topics for my research project.
During my ongoing research, there were definitely a lot of ups and downs, just like the roller coaster rides, but it was really a wonderful experience as I got to collaborate with another higher learning institution, Tunku Abdul Rahman College (TARUC) for my project. This journey would never have been possible without my main supervisor, Dr Cheong Siew Lee of IMU and co-supervisor, Dr Sheri-Ann Tan of TARUC. With their passionate and kind reviews, I managed to successfully pass my VIVA! Thank God! Apart from that, I managed to join an international conference, the International Accreditation Celebration Event 2021, organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), United Kingdom and I feel very grateful to have been awarded the Best Poster Award among more than 30 participants from different countries!
All of these still feel like a dream to me. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to place on record my gratitude to each and every person who had directly or indirectly lent their hands in this venture.
“No matter how hard it gets, we should always believe in our paths” – Bang Ye Dam, TREASURE.