Always... Pull your socks up! --- Mr H

This is not my story. I was asked by Mr H to narrate this story to my readers because he said that I'm a better storyteller. Well, he has a point.😋

So I'm trying my best to write down Mr H's journey, his ups and downs (mostly downs, hahaha) with the hope that maybe it can help others who are thinking of quitting. If you already have that idea in mind, then please bear with this post and read through until the end. Take note on how long did Mr H take to complete his degree? 

A decade!

So here goes... From Mr H's personal experiences...

After the SPM, I did not get any offer to study at the university. So I decided to further my studies by sitting for the STPM examination. I was thinking that, maybe with a Form Six qualification, I could try to apply again to enter the university. My late father passed away that same year. Leaving me, number 11 out of 12 children still schooling and still in need of financial support. Luckily, my mother was still on his pension. However, to me, the money was meant for her, so I tried as much as I could not to burden her with my financial difficulties.

During this time, I had worked at many places. As long as they can pay me, I would stay. To my calculation, I must had taken more than 10 jobs altogether in order to survive. I worked with housekeeping at a hotel, I took a job to clean carpets, I was a cashier at McDonalds and a few other jobs which involved working at the factories. 

I was then offered a place in UiTM, studying for CIMA. It is a professional course, chartered.. with world wide recognition. Of course I was proud. Over the moon. I was not the brightest student in school, and being offered this course surely would change the way people looked at me.

Little did I know, the process of getting a CIMA qualification is very, very tough. I think that even the word hell, could not be the correct adjective to describe the course. 

It did not help that during the time I was in UiTM, studying for this course, I gained the interest to join  ROTU (Reserve Officer Training Unit). It was just for my co-curriculum point at first. Then the interest grew because they were giving some allowances to the cadets. I needed this allowances so I ended up spending more time with this Unit rather than going to class.

It all started with skipping just a few classes. I thought, well ok I will attend the next class and say sorry to the lecturers. Just a few classes then turned into one whole semester in the end. I became embarrassed to see the lecturers. So I just sat for the examinations without going to classes. Of course, I failed. Majority of my papers.

I registered again for the following year, and I failed again. Later on, after 3 years in UiTM, I received a letter that I was about to be terminated because my CGPA was so low. I made the decision to quit and spare myself the fear of confronting my lecturers.

I took a job as a clerk in a local bank. The interview was set up in KL. However, on the day I reported duty, I was instructed to work in Butterworth. It came as a shock to me but I took the job anyway because I needed the money to survive. My mother was worried because I left UiTM without having my Degree. That means my highest qualification at that point of time was STPM. 

Working as a clerk in a bank means that I get to meet new clients everyday. There was a Chinese uncle who always came to talk to me, while depositing his money. Thousands of Malaysian Ringgit. 

One day, he asked me, "You are always counting my money that I want to deposit to this bank, when are you going to count your own money?" I was stunned. Maybe it was a joke from him but that joke really changed me and I started thinking. He was right. I could not stay in that position, a clerk, forever. I must improve myself for the better. I must change the condition of my life. And education is the key.

Hanging on the words of that uncle, I enrolled for the second time in UiTM Shah Alam, this time taking a Law Degree for a change. I applied to be transferred to Shah Alam Branch, because I was enrolled in a PLK course... for working adults (off-campus). Classes would be conducted in the evenings. So my journey started again as a university student. This time at the age of 30ish. 

The hint that I had given above, at the start of this post, I took 10 years to complete my Degree. Yup, it was that long. I failed many papers. It was difficult for me to juggle both work and studying at the same time. All my batch mates had graduated before me. And there I was, still registering for the next semesters ahead. The lecturers were cynical to me. I did not take heart, it was to be expected. Everybody had graduated. But me?

I came to a point of deciding when there were few papers left to complete and I found that working full time was the biggest hindrance I faced. So I decided to resign and focus on my studies. All praises to the Almighty, I finally completed all my papers and was able to graduate. However, I could not pursue the one year duration of LL.B (Hons) because this course requires the students to be there from 8 to 5 every day. There was financial constraint of course, since I had not worked for a long time and only took part time jobs occasionally to survive. 

I tried to apply for Masters programme instead, because I saw that MARA offered their scholarships for Masters. Alhamdulillah, I got a place in UKM to complete my Masters. Maybe this time, I was not that worried about my financial standing since I received the scholarship allowances every month, so I managed to graduate within a year, as prescribed by the university. My result was outstanding. Did not fail any paper at all, even though the passing mark is 65 and not 50, like Degree courses. 

With this result, I applied to be a lecturer in UiTM. My family opposed to this decision because as they claimed, they were already too many teachers in the family. But they didn't know, that was the reason I wanted to teach. It's in our blood. How could I run from it? I love teaching and imparting knowledge to the students. 

I finally managed to land the job that I love. With that, my learning process has not come to an end. Alhamdulillah, I had recently passed my viva voce for my PhD last week. The 3rd of November, 2017 will always be remembered as a date that challenged me mentally and emotionally. The rocky road in completing my PhD is well written here. You can have a read.

When I started my PhD I was already near 50 years of age. Everybody around me was younger than I am. It pulled me down sometimes, but I was determined not to quit. If I did, I wouldn't get to tell you this story, would I? 

I wish my mother is still here, to share this happiness with me. She was always worried about me, changing my courses, shifting jobs so many times. I know she will be happy for me and give me that sweet smile of hers. If only I can tell her... "Mak, I'm a Dr now".

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