The Sultan’s Scholar is a prestigious scholarship awarded to students identified by Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Religious Affairs as being outstanding in their academic and extra-curricular pursuits.
The Sultan’s Scholar scheme serves as a platform to produce excellent leaders who can contribute to the nation’s economy and social development and become the successor generation that will lead the country in the interests of religion, the monarchy and nation.
The scholarship moulds the recipients as future role players towards achieving the Brunei Vision 2035 to make Brunei Darussalam renowned throughout the world as a nation whose people are highly educated, skilled and accomplished.
In 2006, 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 consented to the Sultan’s Scholar Award for the 2006/2007 academic session.
From 2006 to 2018, there were 47 recipients of the Sultan’s Scholar and several recipients received funding to undergo Master’s degree courses and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programmes.
Twenty-eight of the recipients have been working in the government and private sectors while the rest are still undergoing work attachments.
The Bulletin spoke to Liyana Bazilah binti Haji Jamain, who is from the 2012 batch of Sultan’s Scholar recipients, recently after she successfully completed her studies at the University College London, United Kingdom (UK).
Liyana completed her study in BSc in Mathematics and Economics with First Class Honours. With such an outstanding result, Liyana was awarded with BND15,000 by Yayasan as an incentive for her excellence. She then pursued a Master’s degree course in Comparative Economics and Policy at the same university and completed her study in 2016.
Liyana shared that it was an honour for her to receive the prestigious award and expressed that she was extremely grateful to have been given such a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“Having said that, the award also came with a huge responsibility, that is to do the best that I could and come home with valuable knowledge and add value to the human capital in the country,” she said.
“Aside from the monetary benefits, the scholarship progr-amme comes with a lot of perks. Students were given great freedom and there is a lot of trust between the sponsor and students,” she added.
“Students have the opportunity to choose where we want to do our internships, and even have a say where we want to work after completing our studies.”
“Yayasan has a more holistic view of the contribution that we can give back to the country. The programme also gives students the opportunity to be part of a network because the scholars are quite a close knit society. That enables us to learn from each other.”
For students who dream or want to be recipients of Sultan’s Scholar, she advised to know when to recognise and seize opportunities but also to know when to press pause and focus on oneself including studies, mental health and fitness.
“When the going gets tough, stay positive and remember to go back to your niat (intention),” she advised.
In contributing to the country especially towards accomplishing the nation’s goal and aspiration of His Majesty of Brunei Vision 2035, Liyana shared that through research and analysis required in her field of work, she hopes to contribute back for the country’s economy.
Currently, Liyana is working as the Manager at the Economics, Research and Statistic Section of the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD). Liyana’s work field is mostly on monitoring, analysis and economic practice.
In keeping with the high expectations of being a recipient of such a prestigious award, Liyana noted that struggles and challenges are part of study life.
“Maintaining high academic performance and continuing to deliver high performance in the work environment need to be balanced and managed by taking one day at a time,” she said.
“Difficulty with homesickness and struggling with university’s work makes me appreciate the difficult experience as it prepares you for the real world beyond student life.”
She added that, in facing such challenges, do not be afraid to seek help because support is always there from peers, tutors and family.
“By always going back to niat (intention) and in keeping faith, surely the efforts, hard work and resilience will contribute towards progress no matter how farfetched it may seem.”
“A world that is fast changing requires young graduates to face challenges and obstacles head on,” she said.
Another recipient, Mohamad Adiazizi bin Haji Mohd Mahdi from the 2008 intake for Sultan’s Scholar awards pursued his study in MEng in Chemical Engineering at University College London UK.
He has been at the Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP) since December 2012, and holds a designation as Programming Lead (East Asset). He began his career as a Field Operation Supervisor and later as an Operations Support Engineer.
Mohd Adiazizi explained to the Bulletin that when he knew he was to be awarded as a Sultan’s Scholar, “I had mixed feelings at that time. I felt happy, excited while at the same time grateful. It was such an honour and of course it came with responsibility, while at the same time we also need to do our internship. Every time when we come back for our summer vacation, instead of having a holiday, we do six weeks of internship.”
“This provided the opportunity for me to gain experience and makes me more marketable in my curricula vitae. If it was not for this scholarship, probably I would not have such tremendous opportunity, while at the same time it enables me to plan my future.”
Having served BSP for seven years now, he advised students who aim for a prestigious award like Sultan’s Scholar that one needs to be determined and responsible in shaping future.
“The choice is in your hands. It’s either you sit and wait or try to find opportunities by opening up own enterprises,” he added.