Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) held its 9th convocation ceremony for graduates of 2021 on February 12 at the Plenary Hall of the International Convention Centre in Berakas.
At the convocation, 423 graduates, made up of six PhD, 78 Master’s Degree and 339 Bachelor’s Degree, received their certificates from 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 UTB.
The Bulletin spoke with the graduates following the ceremony.
Nur Wardhyana binti Yahya, a PhD graduate, said finishing a doctorate in chemical engineering, which took her four years to complete, is her greatest achievement.
“It had been my dream to be a scientist since primary school. Somehow I wanted to be a doctor as well. I always wondered how I could be a scientist when I grew up. Doing a doctorate allowed me to do just that while opening more doors for me to pursue a career in scientific research.”
Wardhyana said a lot has happened in the last 12 months; there are a few achievements to take pride in, with the first being the submission of her PhD thesis in January 2021.
Wardhyana spent about six months preparing for her viva voce (or thesis defence). During those months, she also participated in the Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Programme (SSEAYP) Next Generation Leader conference.
She also came in first place under the PhD category for the Best Presentation in UTB 3rd Postgraduate Colloquium in April 2021 while her viva voce was set for June 12.
“Alhamdulillah, all my examiners decided to award me a PhD after some minor amendments, allowing me to graduate today.”
Studying for a PhD is tough but Wardhyana loved every minute of it.
She said having a great support system made the journey more beautiful, especially having a mother’s unwavering support.
Wardhyana’s mother is a librarian in UTB. Thus, pursuing a PhD at the same university has allowed her to work alongside her mother.
She admitted to always asking her mother for guidance when she needed references for her research, though her father and siblings were equally supportive of her pursuit.
“They helped me a lot when I had to carry out experimental work in the laboratory. My supervisors, postgraduate mates, technicians, and other UTB staff were supportive too. Alhamdulillah, I was never alone in this journey.”
Wardhyana said that praying had helped her tremendously as when faced with difficulties in her studies, she would ask her mother to pray with her for both herself and her peers because she knew that if she asked Allah the Almighty for goodness for others around her, she too would reap the benefits as well.
Despite her hectic schedule, she always allocated her ‘me-time’ or what she calls “my Fajr routine”, by waking up at 4am every day and perform Solat Sunat Tahajjud, reciting the Al-Quran, Zikir, and at times journaling (for self-reflection), before the Fajr prayer. She said having alone time prepared her for a full day of uncertainties.
Meanwhile, Hajah Nuruljannah binti Haji Mohd Zamari, a Master of Science in Management and Technology graduate, said her strength is resilience. When she starts something, she will also make sure to finish it.
However, she said she also has the tendency to put too much on her plate without considering her capability in delivering the desired result.
“I always take those incidents as challenges to get out of my comfort zone. But after experiencing burnouts, I have learnt my lesson. I have learnt that it is okay to say ‘no’ to requests if it will affect my physical and mental health.”
As a part-time student, Nuruljannah finds personal satisfaction in being able to apply knowledge acquired in her work, which is why she hopes to pursue professional certification like ACCA or PMP, in five years’ time.
Three years after completing her degree programme, she thought it was time to pursue her Master’s degree but little did she know that Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are different; in a Master’s course, lecturers are there to guide while students are expected to work independently.
She had develop curiosity in things to kick start her brain and to always ask, ‘Why?’ and ‘So, what now?’. She was surprised at her growth, especially her critical thinking and decision making skills.
Nuruljannah is a firm believer in educators are academic parents. Hence, regardless of differences in opinions or heaty debates in classrooms, she always tried to part ways with her teachers or lecturers on good terms.
Haji Mahran bin Dr Haji Morsidi believes that curiosity helps an individual develop skills, and that there is always knowledge to acquire.
It led him to focussing in blockchain technology, due to its application potential in a number of areas.
Haji Mahran always made sure to spead time with is family as they are the support system throughout his journey.
He advided, “Talk with your supervisors, lecturers, friends or course mates if you’re having difficulties with an assignment or understanding a particular subject. Discuss your problems with the ones you trust and comfortable with. Always make time for things that you enjoy, be it sports, playing games, or even binge watching a TV series or movies.”
Haji Mahran believed that failure is not the end of a journey. “Failure is not a disappointment but an opportunity for self-improvement,” he said.
“You have to be persistent, accept failure and learn to overcome your weaknesses. Just know that you can pick yourself up again following a failure. Celebrate one small win at a time,” he added.
Another gradute that spoke with the Bulletin was Teo Wei Fong, who completed the Bachelor of Science in Architecture programme. He believed in learning not just for the sake of learning but to gain knowledge and improve certain areas of his life.
Teo said that his development goals are: communication skills; teamwork and flexibility; critical and creative thinking; problem solving skills and staying organised.
In terms of his studies during the pandemic, Teo said UTB rapidly changed its approach by employing digital tools, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and providing tutoring online.
“I tried to stay productive during the pandemic by working 40 hours a week. I also took time out for myself by doing courses, spending time with my family, working out and painting.
“Although the pandemic stopped us from physical interactions, we were still able to find a way to do things virtually, thanks to the technologies,” he added.
For Mohammad Faizul Wafiy bin Mohamad, who graduated with a Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering, he hopes to apply what he has learnt in university to his career.
“My drive to work hard stems from my desire to repay my family for their sacrifices” said Mohammad Faizul Wafiy.
“Performing daily prayer obligations as well as Doa also help, especially when things seemed impossibly challenging.
“There’s always that miracle that makes me realise that Allah the Almighty delivers great sustenance.”