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The Life & Emotions as an IMU Dietetics Student: Learning Enhanced, Tears Shed, Memories Immortalised

06 Nov 2019

Waking up at 4am, working out with my best friend at 5am and proceeding to clinical work in the hospital every single day for months after a traumatic personal heartbreak was what I can never forget in my 4-year journey. Is it exhausting? Yes. But it anchors my day. It reminds me of my purpose, that I need to be stronger than my pain, that nothing can stop me from achieving my goals, that a winner never let anything gets in his way of winning.

Dietetics was never a profession I would imagine myself venturing into, but one that I never regretted serving for. The reason was relatively straightforward. Back when I was an adolescent, I was one of the many victims in an obesogenic environment. I wasn’t the fattest, but I can never forget the fear of taking off my shirt for a Pendidikan Jasmani class in front of my friends. I had horribly low self-esteem because of my protruding abdomen, and muscle deficiency *laughs*. Then came the day when I decided to follow my father into a gym, a decision that ultimately changed my life. Through my own senseless attempts of fad diets out there on the internet, I went through a lot of mistakes, but eventually I experienced a dramatic improvement in fitness and aesthetic outlook through persistence and hard work. That was the moment that I truly felt the impact of nutrition, and I wanted to extend this influence on everyone out there who need it. I must admit that this reason of mine isn’t the most noble one by any means, but I believe it is one of the most miraculous experience in life when you can leverage upon your personal experience to do something meaningful for others. My IMU Journey The reputation of IMU’s Department of Nutrition & Dietetics being one of the top tier ones in Malaysia made IMU my first choice. Through my learning at IMU, I must say the reputation was not for nothing, as the faculty, learning style and teaching methods are on the forefront in the nation. Given a positive learning attitude, IMU provides a conducive learning environment.

My time at IMU studying the Dietetics with Nutrition programme was a roller coaster ride, and a lot of times, things got a little too overwhelming for me to handle, but I always told myself that I will always win no matter how hard. And so I did.

I vividly remember an academic semester when I experienced one of the lowest points in my life – the demise of my father. Having to juggle between academic commitments and emotional turbulence was a challenge, but it is true when they say it doesn’t matter how hard life hits you, it is about how you stand back up strong. With support and companionship of my closest friends and the faculty, I was able to cruise through the period of emotional downfall with ease. So, to all of you who were there for me, words can’t express how grateful I am to have you. Nonetheless, there are very joyful times throughout 4 years of learning. From orientation, annual games and events, to clinical years of practising in hospital, the time spent with friends grinding through nights crafted the best experience I could ever have in my life. Particularly the last year of clinical internship, where we spend our times together familiarising ourselves in the hospital, writing notes and planning healthcare regiments. Dietetics with Nutrition's top student shares his IMU journey. From tedious academic commitments, to joyous friendships, and to the very moment of a romantic relationship, I am immensely grateful to have met a person I know I will always love for a lifetime; and regretful for all the mistakes I made. The memories are there to stay, always. At IMU, one of the activities I joined consistently was Discover Joy of Learning (DJoL), a project dedicated to providing education support to an orphanage home. Through this voluntary work, I was able to appreciate how blessed I am, and given the opportunity to help others. These activities may not seem to be the most rewarding things to do for ourselves academically or financially, but the character and spirituality that it helps to build in you, is priceless. You will be a better person, in short. Dietetics with Nutrition's top student shares his IMU journey. Other than that, I also participated in some events of IMU Cup. All of these helped me to take a break from the hassles of academic workload and refresh my mind by enjoying good times of laughter with friends and close ones. Sports and physical activity are extremely vital to a good academic performance, it sharpens your mental clarity, and helps you to perform better in times of stress. I am grateful as IMU provided a lot of opportunities for extra-curricular activities as such, because they play a pivotal role at ensuring the graduates of IMU do not only qualify academically, but also excel in various aspects of competency. Throughout my years of learning at IMU, the University has consistently provided good management and learning experience through transportation, resources in library, IT support and information dissemination. Not to mention the facilities were complete to say the least. Technical support and student services were well managed by competent personnel and they facilitated our wonderful student experiences indirectly. Most importantly, can never leave out the faculty for facilitating my learning in the most professional and systematic way. The dietetics course in IMU offered great insights and learning to me as I progressed to learn more about nutrition and professional healthcare through diet.

How did you feel when you know you are the top student? At the instance of receiving a notification from my mentor, I feel grateful and appreciative of all the support I have received from lecturers, clinical instructors and fellow friends. An award may be won by an individual, but the contribution and reason behind the success will always, always go beyond that particular individual. Without the dedicated education given by my lecturers and clinical instructors, I wouldn’t learn so much about dietetics and continuously grow my passion in it. Without the help and companionship of my friends, I wouldn’t be able to experience these four years in such a meaningful manner and realise my own mistakes in a lot of times. Hence, I really wish to dedicate this award to all of you, who had been a part of my life. Thank you.

What are your other achievements at IMU? The ones I remember the most is when I received a third-prize award for research oral presentation in IMU, as well as the publication of my research thesis in the Asian Journal of Dietetics. But the greatest achievement I had in IMU will always be having to be mentored by some of the greatest lecturers in the nation and building friendships with some of the best individuals in the world. What is your motivation to achieve this? I don’t really rely on motivation to get things done because I believe motivation is short-lived. Motivation gets you started, but only a firm and unwavering, meaningful anchor that is deeply rooted in your heart will keep you going. Your belief and passion will be the reason you insist to give your all during the bad days and toughest times, they will be the reason you go that extra mile when you are tired, when everyone has stopped working hard. This extra mile you go is precisely what distinguishes greatness from average. My anchor stems from my unwillingness to be average, my passion to make a difference in the life of others, and my spiritual promise to honour my late father through excellence in everything I do. Find your anchor. Stop doing what you are doing just for the sake of doing it. How do you think your degree will prepare you for future? The future features a rapidly changing world, where existing systems will be revolutionised through disruptive technology and unresolvable political differences. A degree in IMU equipped me with the fundamental knowledge to kick start a career in the healthcare industry as a professional, who I foresee will be increasingly appreciated in the future. Most importantly, the course itself also cultivated independent learning and a thirst for knowledge in me, propelling me to keep on learning and seek knowledge in the right direction. A good learning course should make you feel that you have more to learn. Because the better you learn, the more you realise you have to learn.

Your Current Employment
Currently I am working as a sports dietitian in a health and fitness centre based in Kuala Lumpur. I aim to do as much as I can to push for an incorporation of professional, evidence-based nutrition knowledge into the fitness industry through personal consultations, content creation and workshops.

Your Future Plans I aim to continue my personal learning in artificial intelligence, programming, digital marketing concepts for an eventual integration between these fields, that will ultimately lead to the rise of a sustainable and mature digital healthcare system in Malaysia.

My Advice to Students Interested in Dietetics
Understand your passion, be independent and innovative in learning, and always strive to think out of the box. Be outcome-focused, process-driven and always know what you want to achieve at the end of the day. Equipping yourself with IT or marketing-related knowledge can greatly enhance dietetics practice in the near future.

Last but not least, thank you to everyone who made me who I am today. Particularly to my mentors, Dr Lee Ching Li, Dr Chen Seong Ting, my all-time favourite clinical instructor Ms Soh. I have learned a lot and continuously expand my thoughts through your unreserved teachings and help, and I will continue to do so. Also, to the person, who made my life in IMU extraordinarily beautiful through both happy and painful memories. I will keep Our Times together in heart, always.

Written by Wong Wei Wen

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