All ready to take on the challenge

Lyna Mohammad

The 8th Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) Convocation ceremony on Monday saw the graduation of the first batches of PhD and School of Applied Sciences and Mathematics graduates.

PhD graduate in Electrical and Electronic Engineering Law Foo Kai said it was an honour to be part of the first batch and a major lifetime achievement.

Law said he sees commitment towards a scheduled research period, self-discipline, creativity, problem-solving in technological research literature and the ability to form hypotheses and methodology based on the formed research literature as contributors to his success.

Though worried about employment, he takes it as a challenge. “Employment is like selling products. We need to find a suitable customer (employer) to sell our product (graduates) with an appealing sales strategy (resume),” he said.

On his doctorate programme, Law said Photonics engineering was a new research topic for UTB at the time. As a result, there was a lack of hardware and testing facilities. However, through collaboration with other institutions, they obtained research papers and other publications.

The graduate also touched on the lack of motivation as an issue during his PhD programme. “I changed my daily routine sometimes to ease my mind to perform at peak again,” he said, while attributing his ability to work through the difficulty with the help of his supervisor and counsellor.

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 Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) and His Royal Highness Prince (Dr) Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Pro-Chancellor of UTB at the 8th UTB Convocation Ceremony. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR/INFOFOTO
FROM LEFT: Fatin Nabilah binti Haji Mohd Yusop, Nur Afifah Haniyyah binti Halidi and Karuneza binti Haji Sambas
FROM LEFT: Muhammad Amin bin Haji Fauzul, Law Foo Kai and Chai Chang Weng

Meanwhile, as part of the first batch of graduates from the School of Applied Sciences and Mathematics, Nurhazirah binti Nurazmy, who graduated in the Food Science and Technology programme, said her strong research interest in mainly food product development pushed her to complete her studies.

Under the Ministry of Education (MoE) Scholarship, Nurhazirah said developing food products may also open up opportunities to market the items upon success of the research.

Continuously learning and improving herself to overcome obstacles helped her excel with guidance from supervisors Professor Beston Nore and Dr Aida Maryam Basri.

“I hope to use the knowledge and skills (laboratory and non-laboratory) I have earned throughout my two years of research, in giving new ideas and approaches to a small business owned by my family, while actively seeking a job,” she said. “I would also like to improve further the food products that I worked on during the programme.”

Before the pandemic, Nurhazirah was applying for government jobs through the Public Service Commission to get experience.

She said the competition in the job market made her realise she must work harder, be smarter and perform better not only in school, but in life.

“I believe that life and learning do not stop as soon as you have achieved a school certificate or obtained a title or a job, especially in this modern era. Learning will
never stop.”

She said there was already difficulty in securing employment before the COVID-19 pandemic. It led her to take a more mature approach to continuously upgrade her knowledge and skills, and to have interests in business and investment on top of food science.

Feeling proud of what she’s achieved after two years of hard work, patience and perseverance, Nurhazirah said being one of the first research students to graduate from a new programme – Food Science and Technology is something that she will never forget along with graduating with her colleague Hajah Nur Atiqah.

“It was indeed momentous that I was able to join the 2020 convocation in time, after overcoming so many challenges due to the pandemic,” added Nurhazirah.

Muhammad Amin bin Haji Fauzul, a graduate of BSc (Hons) in Computing said he felt relieved and proud to have achieved the milestone and extended his deepest appreciation to all who made it possible – his parents, family and friends, UTB lecturers and staff for always going beyond the call of duty to provide him with guidance and support.

Muhammad Amin said the three years he spent completing his degree was such an enriching and wonderful experience, noting that the journey presented many challenges while also full of opportunities.

“My experience at UTB has helped me grow and mature, providing me not only with competency and skills to be an outstanding employee, but also the comprehensive knowledge needed to pursue further studies.”

He said that UTB is known for producing highly skilled and job-ready graduates and it was one of the reasons why he chose the university to pursue his degree. Throughout his studies, he made sure to take every opportunity provided by the university to always gain more experience and skills, taking certifications and training, and finding any valuable internship opportunities to help propel him forward in the job market.

“I would like to express my deepest thanks to 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 and the Government of His Majesty for providing me with this scholarship, my parents and family, UTB and all my lecturers who worked tirelessly in educating me, and all my friends with whom I shared this
wonderful journey.”

Muhammad Amin added that for getting through obstacles, the important thing is to never give up, to always have a positive mindset and to keep trying and, “Insya Allah, with Allah the Almighty’s guidance, you will succeed and overcome any challenges.”

Another graduate Karuneza binti Haji Sambas, expressed her surprise on receiving a First Class degree in her BBus (Hons) in Finance and Risk Management programme.

“I’m so glad my hard work paid off in the end. It was all worth it knowing I have achieved so much. Although I was keen to strive for the best grade I could attain, the First Class Honours classification still seems a little unreal yet well deserved,” said Karuneza.

She believed that a strong work ethic, discipline, focus, efficiency and professionalism are all necessary to attain academic success. She said being organised, planning work consistently, meeting deadlines, paying attention to details and meeting regularly with lecturers and supervisors were among the contributing factors to her success.

Speaking on the prospect of employment, she said, “I planned earlier and took the initiative to return to university to do a one-year Master’s right after my degree. I find this route very rewarding; it boosts general employability while waiting to secure a job. At the same time, I have applied on recruitment websites and agencies for both public and private sectors.”

Sharing her challenges, she noted the management of deadlines while keeping a healthy social life as well as body and mind. However, the biggest takeaway from her degree is that she did everything in moderation and did not overwork herself.

Chai Chang Wang, who graduated with a BEng (Hons) in Chemical Engineering, was also happy that his four years of efforts paid off.

He said that contributors to his success were cultivating good habits, studying smart, resting when necessary and gettting support from his parents, guidance from lecturers and motivation from coursemates. Speaking on the challenges during his journey, he said he had to take some time to grasp new concepts, but everything turned out well.

Another to speak to the Bulletin was Nur Afifah Haniyyah binti Halidi who completed her one-year programme in Master of Science by Coursework in Mechanical Engineering.

She said her determination, hard work and persistence backed by emotional support and prayers from family and friends, were key reasons for her success.

“The toughest challenge faced was during the first semester where I had to adapt to a new field of study as, coming from a natural science background, my engineering knowledge and skills were not profound.”

She had to put in extra effort to understand engineering terms but eventually pulled through with support from colleagues and lecturers.

She plans to pursue a PhD, “so I can realise my dream of becoming an active member of the academia.”

Meanwhile, Fatin Nabilah binti Haji Mohd Yusop, who earned a Bachelor Degree (Hons) of Business in Finance and Risk Management, said she was driven to complete her studies so as to improve her career prospects and get a better job with a promising salary.

This was the reason behind taking different courses related to business to give her more options, she added.

As a fresh graduate, Fatin said job hunting is her priority, adding that she looks to build a strong presence without being picky with the available job vacancies, to develop professionally and soak up as much experience as possible.