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The Symbiosis of Giving and Learning: My 4-year Journey as a Pharmacy Student

22 Jul 2020

When Ker Ro first set foot at IMU, she thought to herself, “What can I be four years from now? A pharmacist? Sure, but what kind of pharmacist? A pharmacist who just dispense medication? Or a pharmacist who can also empower other pharmacists or anyone, to discover their potential and make the world a better place?” IMU CARES It turns out that IMU had this vision many years ago and serving the community to make the world a better place is an integral part of IMU. That is why IMU Cares was born, to provide an avenue for staff and students to engage with the community where community projects become a part of a student’s learning experience in IMU. Therefore, it’s sufficed to say that IMU has played a pivotal role in Ker Ro’s journey of giving and learning as a student. Ker Ro relates more on her involvement in community projects at IMU. “When I was in Year Two, I was recruited to join an IMU Cares project called Discover Joy of Learning (DJOL) to teach English to children at a welfare centre. I was assigned to help mentor a 10-year-old girl with learning disabilities. Although inexperienced in teaching children with special needs, I persevered, and she quickly absorbed the lesson as she was a fast learner. At the end of the project, I realised that she wasn’t only my student, but she was also my teacher, where she taught me to see the world through a pure lens and made me discovered the part of myself that wants to contribute and care for the underprivileged.

The experience gained from the IMU Cares project ignited my passion to contribute more and I then co-organised the first TEDx event in IMU in 2018. I co-curated the content of the conference with the central theme of “See the Unnoticed”, which covered topics such as autism, refugee visibility and transgender rights in Malaysia. Despite having such controversial topics, IMU did not attempt to alter the event in any way but was very supportive to provide the venue, financial and publicity assistance for the event. This cemented in me that IMU is really living out its values to serve the community equally, even to those unnoticed by many.

As part of my learning experience in the Clinical Pharmacy module, students were required to take part in a community project. I was involved in organising a health awareness day for the elderly at a nursing home. This project sparked my interest to hold more community projects for the geriatric population. I then went on to organise a few engagement sessions with the elderly at Rumah Ti-Ratana over the weekends.

The COVID-19 outbreak then hit in Malaysia during my final year. Just a month before the Movement Control Oder (MCO) was implemented, IMU Cares offered me the opportunity to organise a project to teach Somalian refugee children about hand hygiene, oral health and a healthy diet. While adhering to the MCO, I also provided free COVID-19 online consultation for the public on a telemedicine platform called Doc2Us.”

Running community projects like these are resource intensive but nonetheless, IMU Cares has always been selflessly giving back to the society. The university’s emphasis on giving back to the community is not just manifested in the student’s curriculum but its culture and values among students and staff. This has really inspired me to be who I am today.

Written by: Toh Ker Ro, IMU Pharmacy Student

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