Scroll to top

Solving My Greatest Puzzle: Shareena’s Journey with IMU Psychology

14 Nov 2022

An American psychologist with the unfortunate name of Edwin Boring once wrote, “The most important and greatest puzzle we face as humans is ourselves.” I began my study in Psychology asking myself the question: What makes us who we are? Why do we think the way we think? Why do we behave the way we do? Even now as I have successfully graduated, some of these questions are left unanswered, for humans are a puzzle – subtle, complex, multi-layered and complicated. Nevertheless, studying psychology at IMU has allowed me to place the pieces in my puzzle little by little as it was as much of an academic journey as it was a time of healing and self-exploration.


My journey with IMU began as early as 7 years ago at the IMU Oral Health Centre to which I was a loyal customer of. Ever since I stepped foot on campus, I knew that this was where I wanted to pursue my studies. IMU checked all my boxes. It’s prestigious, located conveniently near my house and has amazing facilities, to name a few. To top it all off, I was offered a generous scholarship from IMU for my foundation studies and later, a full scholarship to pursue my degree in Psychology.


If I were to write about every single meaningful experience I had in IMU, I would end up with an entire book worth of stories. To save you all that word count (something I struggled with for every assignment), I hereby summarise my best memories at IMU that will remain etched in my heart forever:


Taking the leap from high school to university or from foundation to degree may seem like a scary feat. However, IMU’s orientation programme has made it easy for its students to integrate themselves into the university’s culture. Orientation days were some of the best days I had in my university life and it is something you surely would not want to miss.

Project Connected 2019

In 2019 after completing my foundation studies, I was fortunate to have been selected as part of Project Connected 2019 under IMU, a week-long community service project in Indonesia which not only instilled in me a greater understanding of societies beyond my own but simultaneously provided an opportunity for the team and I to unravel personal experiences about ourselves.

IMU Scholar and Psychology alumnus, Shareena Syaira, shares her journey studying psychology at IMU.

IMU Scholar and Psychology alumnus, Shareena Syaira, shares her journey studying psychology at IMU.

Sign Language Workshop

After gaining a Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia (BIM) certificate from the Malaysian Federation of the Deaf myself back in 2017, I was delighted to organise a sign language workshop under the IMU Scholars Committee to motivate other IMU students to be able to reach out to a wider range of people, especially being in the healthcare industry where we are bound to encounter people from all walks of life. Together with my project team and YMCA KL, we managed to successfully organise the workshop which had a great outcome.

Research Hackathon 2020

IMU Scholar and Psychology alumnus, Shareena Syaira, shares her journey studying psychology at IMU.

Going in with zero expectation, it felt surreal to witness what seemed like a small seed of idea in the beginning blossoming into something way beyond our expectation. My two closest friends and I were elated to have won a RM20,000 research grant in the IMU Research Hackathon 2020 to turn our mental health app into reality; but more than the award itself, the biggest award for us was definitely having the opportunity to realise our small idea for the greater benefit of the society. Currently, the app is in its development stage and is hoping to begin its pilot test soon! Honourable mention to our project advisor, Mr. Alexius Cheang, whose guidance and thought-provoking questions always challenged us to be the best version of ourselves.


Related articles: IMU Students and Scientists Take On Challenges of Pandemic via Hackathons

Internship at HPUPM 

A highlight of my IMU Psychology journey would definitely be my internship at Hospital Pengajar Universiti Putra Malaysia (HPUPM), where I got to experience being in the profession for what it is under my amazing supervisor, Ms Hiew Yik Wei, a clinical psychologist who is also an IMU Psychology alumni (What a small world). With proper guidance, Ms Yik entrusted me with case formulations, intake interviews, observing and interacting with patients daily and administering various assessments. My 3-month stint there enabled me to put myself in the shoes of a clinical psychologist and truly reinforced my passion in this field. Through my internship, I knew for a fact that this was what I wanted to pursue.

Psychology Gala Night

Marking the end of my Psychology journey with IMU, the Psychology Club organised a gala night to bring together all lecturers and students of the Psychology programme – surely a night to remember!

IMU Scholar and Psychology alumnus, Shareena Syaira, shares her journey studying psychology at IMU.

IMU Alumni Conference 2022

Of course, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention my thesis – “The Earliest Experience of Hair Pulling and Discovery of its Name Among Malaysian Individuals with Trichotillomania Symptoms” – that I hold dear to my heart.

Thanks to all the individuals who have given me the pleasure of listening to their stories and have bravely entrusted me with their experiences that may have otherwise remained hidden forever, my thesis managed to win itself an award at the IMU Alumni Conference 2022.

This would not have been possible without the guidance of my supervisor, Dr Serena In, whose belief and confidence in me steered me through my research.


Related article: Diverse Group of Alumni Learned from Each Other and Exchange Opinions at IMU’s First Ever Alumni Conference

Outside of IMU, I also joined Mind Matters Network – a youth for youth mental health organisation where I have had the pleasure of working with a team of passionate volunteers advocating for youth mental health across Malaysia through our mental health events and handbooks. Mind Matters Network also recently received a generous donation from IMU Cares to facilitate our group therapy sessions which we are heavily indebted to.

IMU Scholar and Psychology alumnus, Shareena Syaira, shares her journey studying psychology at IMU.

Studying psychology at IMU was never solely about academics. What makes the experience valuable is the application of the knowledge gained in other areas of life – with the people you meet and the activities you involve yourself in. It has truly been a fulfilling journey of finding myself and my personhood, understanding the people around me and learning to be more empathetic. These experiences have undoubtedly helped me to piece together my puzzle – and I sure hope that it will be the same for you too, should you ever consider taking up Psychology at IMU.


Currently, I am attached to the Human Resources Department of IMU to serve my bond where I get to apply my psychology knowledge in dealing with a vast array of personalities. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to applying for and pursuing my Masters in Clinical Psychology. I’m excited for the day where I finally get to practise as a clinical psychologist – my long withstanding passion – in hopes of aiding to piece together my clients’ puzzles, slowly but surely.


To all current and future students at IMU, I sincerely wish the best of luck to you!


Written by Shareena Syaira Binti Shaari 

During the convocation, Shareena is a recipient of the following award:
Tun Zahir Merit Award Given to a graduating student who has shown outstanding academic excellence in a graduating class.
She is also in the Dean’s List of Graduands with High Academic Achievement.

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published.