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IMU Dentistry Student Advocates for Oral Healthcare

02 Apr 2021

The Aflame Student Award recognises the measures taken by IMU students to practice compassion and be a light of humanity. Throughout the years, all finalists who have been shortlisted have demonstrated humanistic values in their service to the community and are impressive in their own rights. Jacklyn Ng Zhi Ling,an IMU dentistry student, was one of the finalists for the award this year. Jacklyn’s passion in advocacy for oral healthcare is clearly evident in her portfolio. As President of the Malaysian Dental Students’ Association, she has organised fund-raising projects and public health awareness campaigns to educate the community of the importance of proper oral hygiene and care. As President of the IMU Oral Health Committee, she led several community projects and dental screenings in collaboration with IMU Cares, particularly for communities who lack access to proper dental treatment such as the urban poor, children’s homes, and old folks’ homes. She also has collaborated with various stakeholders of dentistry in Malaysia in conjunction with World Oral Health Day 2019 and Mouth Cancer Awareness Week 2020.

IMU dentistry student, Jacklyn Ng Zhi Ling shares her journey as MDSA's student leader.IMU dentistry student, Jacklyn Ng Zhi Ling shares her journey as MDSA's student leader.

We were able to catch up with Jacklyn to find out what motivates her to be so active in community work.

Looking at your portfolio, it must have been challenging to balance your responsibilities as a student, being actively involved with the community while also being an advocate for oral health. What drives you to be so active in community work?

I was exposed to community work in high school and college when I was part of the Interact Club and Leo Club whereby, we organised various community service initiatives in the poor urban community and old folks’ home. I believe that voluntary work should be a continuous effort. Little did I realize that when I joined IMU, I jumped at every opportunity to volunteer in various IMU Cares projects and collaborated with stakeholders in dentistry to organise public health awareness campaigns. Coupled with my passion in dentistry, I found my calling to contribute to society by providing oral health education and free dental screening to the marginalized communities. Receiving simple appreciation messages from those whom you’ve helped can be personally rewarding, a confirmation that you’ve made a positive difference in their life albeit how small it may be, which has encouraged me to continue giving back to those in need to the best of my ability.

You must have a lot of memorable moments in your service to the community. Could you share with us one of the memorable incidents and why was it special?
I have been actively involved in poor urban community projects in IMU. One of the projects which has left a deep impression on me was when I volunteered at Balakong whereby we provided free medical and dental screening for the marginalised community. As I was conducting medical screening and providing them with health advice, the residents were very appreciative of what we do, and they were easily contented with simple blessings. Volunteering has made me realize the importance of being grateful for what we have. It has taught me that a simple act of kindness, patience and care has a ripple effect on others and creates a much larger impact in the community than we can imagine.

While studying here, how has IMU helped you in your journey of community work?

IMU Cares has provided many avenues to participate and lead community projects such as helping the poor urban community, treating refugee patients and children at our Oral Health Centre. It has provided me with doors of opportunities to communicate with people from all walks of life from the young to the elderly. This has honed my communication skills with my patients and inculcated care and compassion towards my patients which has shaped me to who I am today as a healthcare professional.

Before we go, do you have any parting words for your fellow IMU students who are looking to be active in community work?
Be proactive and seek opportunities to lead and participate in voluntary projects, be it through student societies or IMU Cares or NGOs. I strongly believe that even in the capacity as a student, you can empower the community and create impact in ways that you would not expect. You will always be receiving more than what you are giving when you are helping others.

Aside from aspiring to be a competent dentist, she also hopes to make dental treatment accessible to rural communities as part of her advocacy for good oral health. We wish Jacklyn the very best in her journey! Related articles: IMU Final Year Dental Student Wins Coveted Award at 31st SEAADE Scientific Meeting 2020 Journey as a Student Leader in MDSA and IMU

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