Graduating in the new norm

Lyna Mohammad

A number of graduates of Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s (UBD) 32nd Convocation ceremony yesterday shared their thoughts with the Bulletin on graduating and achieving the milestone while adapting to the new norm.

A graduate in Bachelor of Engineering in Manufacturing Systems Mazriana binti Mazlan expressed her gratitude for the government scholarship.

She said 2020 has been a tough year with the pandemic, which has affected everyone including those in the education industry.

The former HND holder from Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) shared that online learning has become acceptable to an extent; however the effectiveness is still debatable when compared to face-to-face learning interaction.

In her final year she had to limit her time spent at the university due to additional procedures and guidelines. This was a challenge as she had to focus on hands-on methods and use university equipment for her individual assignment project.

This did not deter her as the challenges taught her how to adapt, be more creative and be outside of her comfort zone and allowed her to excel in her studies.

“My communication and time management skills also improved as a result,” she said.

Mazriana also hopes that she can be an inspiration to her siblings, who she believes can achieve even more than she has.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the Chancellor of UBD, and His Royal Highness Prince (Dr) Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, and Pro-Chancellor of UBD during the 32nd UBD Convocation Ceremony. PHOTO: INFOFOTO
Bachelor of Engineering in Manufacturing Systems graduate Mazriana binti Mazlan with her family.
ABOVE & BELOW: PhD graduate in Islamic Civilisation and Contemporary Issues Nazirul Mubin bin Ahad; Bachelor of Science in Biology graduate Zainab Alkabbani Dr Mutiaa; Bachelor of Business graduate Amal Rifa binti Mohammad Rosman; and Master’s graduate in Public Health Amalie Chin Siaw Fang

Meanwhile, Master’s graduate in Public Health Amalie Chin Siaw Fang had the honour to pursue her Master by Coursework in 2018.

Amalie’s strongest drive to excel in her studies is her love for learning the basic and essential knowledge and skills to improve the health of the people in many ways.

She shared her passion in health started during her secondary school years where, as a peer counsellor and a member of the sports and advertisement team in the student representative committee, she raised awareness on health, organised events and interacted with people.

“Knowing that ‘health is wealth’, I decided to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing with the mindset to help patients,” she said.

But, as time passed, she realised that empowering people in the community towards a healthy living is a key foundation to having better health, hence the decision to do public health, as she believes that ‘prevention is better than cure’.

Through the public health programme, she learnt that public health is not just about protecting people’s health, but also the safety and wellness of the people.

On the new norm of the convocation, she praised the UBD graduation committee for ensuring the ceremony went smoothly amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The instructions for the graduation were conveyed on an e-platform. This allowed us to access it conveniently and allowed us to practice at home,” she said.

She is also fortunate to be granted another scholarship to pursue her PhD in Public Health, which she is undertaking at UBD and is looking forward to work under the Ministry of Health (MoH) after she graduates.

On the challenges of employment during this difficult time, Amalie is unable to stand in other graduates’ shoes since she is currently doing her PhD. However, she encourages jobseekers to not give up and look for jobs suiting their abilities and skills.

She encouraged them to gain work experience by applying for internships to upskill themselves while networking as it can help secure a job.

Another graduate is Zainab Alkabbani Dr Mutiaa, an international student who chose to do a Bachelor of Science in Biology at UBD.

Hailing from Damascus, Syria, Zainab said her overall experience as an international undergraduate student has been positive, with challenges such as making friends and adapting to the culture helping make her becoming the person she is now.

Her decision to study at UBD was in part to its reputation of being one of the best local universities and having a high-quality education system, accompanied by an efficiently operating administration and infrastructure.

The culture shock of adjusting to life in a new and foreign country was the first and foremost challenge that every international student has to face, she said.

However, socialising with her international friends was quite easy and before long she expanded her social network by joining several international student events and activities organised by the students themselves.

As for the challenge during the pandemic, Zainab was one of the students who wasn’t negatively impacted.

She said not having to make trips to the campus often saved time for her by efficiently working and studying online.

“I used the extra time to complete various self-improvement activities such as reading, hiking, and online courses,” she shared.

Zainab plans to further her studies, in Brunei or abroad, and expressed her thanks to UBD and the Brunei government for allowing the opportunity.

Following her graduation ceremony, she plans to return home to Syria once routes are open and the pandemic has calmed down there. Otherwise, she will travel directly to another country for another opportunity or stay in Brunei for some time until further notice, as her primary family has been residing here long before the pandemic hit Brunei.

Another to speak to the Bulletin was graduate in Bachelor of Business Amal Rifa binti Mohammad Rosman.

She shared the convocation felt out of the ordinary as it was conducted differently compared to previous iterations, with many standard operating procedures (SOPs) implemented.

“However, we know it is necessary to follow through because this is what we’ve been waiting for. I am thankful to UBD and the Government of Brunei that we still get to have our convocation ceremony in these unexpected times.”

Despite feeling sad about not having her parents present in the hall itself, still having them in the same vicinity was good enough.

She plans to venture into the career world and is actively looking for work with the hope of getting a job in administration or human resources, as her internship experience was invaluable and allowed her to get a taste of how things are in the real working environment, as well as the ability to practice all the things she learned in theory.

Meanwhile, Nazirul Mubin bin Ahad, who graduated with a PhD in Islamic Civilisation and Contemporary Issues, said one key reason for him to keep working hard is to make his family proud.

Since he completed his PhD last year, Nazirul Mubin was not so affected by the pandemic. However, he still sees it as a challenge that needs to be faced and looking at it from a positive view, he believes these new norms mean that students will have to adjust and help them prepare for the real world.

“I’m thankful for having the opportunity to be in this event,” he said. “We should appreciate it and having our convocation during this time makes it a bit unique compared to others.”