I cannot emphasise how much IMU has shaped my life, future, and me as a person.
I began my Biomedical Science degree programme in 2018, with little to no knowledge on research. I did not even know how to use a micropipette properly. I remember struggling in the lab, until a dedicated lecturer stood there and taught me the basics, from holding the instrument to operating it.
Right from the start of my IMU journey to the end, I had a mentor, Dr Anil Philip Kunnath who not only checked in on me even during the pandemic, but he constantly expressed how proud he was of every minor achievement I had back then. Being surrounded by lecturers like Dr Anil, especially being a direct mentor, was very encouraging.
In IMU, we were always encouraged to join extra-curricular activities, and only at this point in my career now, I understand how important that was. I was exposed to several roles, from being the Fundraising Director for IMU Society of Biomedical Science (ISBS) to becoming the Chairperson of the 11th National Symposium of Biomedical Science 2021. I went from having the most minute role in a society to becoming the leader of a nationwide conference. Again, I knew nothing about leadership, being a 21-year-old undergraduate. The pandemic did not make it any easier in event planning, but the journey in IMU was all about learning.
Speaking of the pandemic, I was in Semester 4 when Covid-19 entered our lives and swept us right off our feet. Everything moved so quickly back then that the overwhelming feeling of transitioning from physical to online platforms took a toll on my mental health. There were too many uncertainties. I remember at that time the faculty did everything they could to hear us out, postponing examinations and providing leniency that helped me cope during that tough period. All the lecturers were also always available when we needed to reach them remotely. It was a tough phase for everyone, but their dedication in making sure they still give us the best they could was very admirable.
During my degree, I started getting an idea of the job scopes I might consider after graduation. Our modules were designed in a way that I was exposed to a bit of everything, and I roughly had an idea that research is something I see myself doing. I was curious and excited to learn but was also very easily demotivated by failed experiments during my Final Year Project. To this, I have my then supervisor, Dr Shamala Salvamani to thank as she sat me down and told me that learning to troubleshoot is a trait I should develop to be a successful scientist, and I reminded myself of her words even today when my experiments fail.
One of my favourite parts of being a Biomedical Science undergraduate in IMU was the internship period. I chose to do my internship in a small laboratory at Ipoh, Perak. Being born and raised in KL, I never had to leave my city for anything. With this opportunity, I got to leave KL and stayed in a small town for 4 months, enjoying a scenic mountain view on my way home from a tiring day in the lab. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to use all my theory and practical knowledge in a real-life setting and I also did feel like my contribution to the company was very well appreciated.
At this very moment, I was so grateful that IMU have prepared me enough to be able to survive in the working world and given me the opportunity to experience a different lifestyle.
After doing some homework on how to pursue a postgraduate course, I realised the importance of scientific writing. In our programme, we were also exposed to literature review and scientific writing, but I knew that mastering it and publishing my papers would greatly benefit me. I approached Dr Dinesh Kumar Chellappan from the School of Pharmacy to guide me, and with his patience and dedication, I published papers that were an added advantage to my application here at Monash University. I am extremely grateful to him. This proves that IMU is a great platform to network and collaborate with faculties even outside our respective schools, and they are always willing to help.
I’m now a 2nd year PhD Candidate in the School of Pharmacy at Monash University under the main supervision of A/Prof Dr Chong Chun Wie, who coincidentally taught me Basic Statistics back in Semester 1, 2018 in IMU. So yes, when I say IMU has shaped me, I can also say it is shaping me even now. I am constantly learning something new every day, and I wouldn’t have been able to persevere without the exposure from IMU.
IMU has also given me amazing friends whom I still laugh with today and experiences I will take with me forever.
Written by Thiviya (Cohort BM118)