Hi everyone, welcome back to my blog. If you are new here my name is Aaronn Avit and I'm currently working as a research assistant at the University of Malaya (UM) while applying to a postgraduate program in the same university. I completed my undergraduate degree in Biotechnology at UM and it has been such a great journey.
1. Be youI have never thought of getting into one of the top universities in Malaysia (UM is ranked 70th in QS world ranking 2020) because of the slim chances I had. I was first offered electrical engineering but I had to decline the offer because engineering was not something that I wanted to do in life. I was more gravitated towards the biological side of life and I thought I have made the right decision by choosing biotechnology. So, my message for you guys is that it is important to follow what your heart wants, and not having the 'crowd mentality' will lead you into your own very league. By 'crowd' I meant something that everyone wants to do and forces you into doing the same thing. I had also received an offer to study medicine at one of the public universities in Malaysia, but after having so much considerations and nights of praying, I had to reject the offer on the basis of the graduate employability, work-life balance, salary and the years ahead of getting into a specialization in medicine. I thought that it would be very time-consuming and I do not have the patience plus doing medicine in a private college can cause a hole in my parents' pocket albeit scholarship such as MARA was available.
2. Resolve your inner issuesBeing the only son in the family puts me in a tough position, given that I have two little sisters whose yet to enter university. I need to be a role model for them and to get them inspired by what I have achieved. Since high school, I had always tried my best in everything that I do and I loved to prove to people that I was capable of achieving good results. However, being a degree student requires a different modus operandi. It is a combination of adulting, socializing and studying that actually get you where you want to be. As a degree student, you will have that 'pick-myself-up' moments where it is really down to your own will to study after facing major issues with your inner-self. In the university, I have seen people having depression, issues with themselves and people around them but they managed to crawl out from the dark phase and obtained exceptional grades in their study. Some of them are still struggling but at least they are willing to talk their hearts out. Sometimes, we just want to be listened. That is true and I was so blessed with amazing friends that have invested their time in me by listening to my problems.
3. Find what you are good at and do not afraid to learn something newWhen I first got into the university, I had a major culture shock of how fast things were going. But I was able to excel in subjects I was taking by doing a very extensive review a few weeks before the final examination. Having friends to brainstorm the concepts and predict the examination questions really helped to build and strengthen your understanding of the subjects. I have always liked all the subjects offered for biotechnology undergraduate at my university. It gives us the whole understanding of what biotechnology really is. We had wide range of specialization to learn from such as plants and animals or microbiology to bioprocess engineering. My favourite subject of all time has to be cell biology and recombinant DNA technology. Genetic engineering has also been my favourite subject to learn and I actually had the opportunities to do my internship at tissue engineering centre and I also worked at National Orthopaedic Centre of Excellence in Research and Learning (NOCERAL) University of Malaya for a few months as a research assistant in stem cells specializing in osteoarthritic joints disease. A complete subject list of what I have studied can be found here: https://ebook.um.edu.my/fs3/handbook%2020152016/index.html#p=129 . Tissue engineering was challenging because I had little hands-on exposure during degree, but I was able to learn from the experts throughout my internship.
4. Find your whysYour success as a degree student really stems from what you are passionate about and why you are doing it but it is also important to know the next 'big thing' in your chosen course or field. One of the reasons why I chose biotechnology in the beginning was I could see the potential it has in so many fields such medicine, agriculture, forestry, marine and zoology. It gives me the opportunity to venture and work in different area of specializations. Currently I am pursuing masters in applied science (biotechnology) and I will be converting my project into PhD because there is so many potential in it as a doctoral study. However, what I did for my internship was not related to the current study at all which is microbiology but I find it challenging and fun at the same time because I am ready to learn and master the art of microbiology. When my supervisors pitched to me the idea of the project, I saw how it can benefit the people in the agriculture industry and the waste management sector. Sustainability has been the way of living in the new era and I am excited to see how my project can contribute to the agricultural sustainability in the future.
That is all from me and I hope you enjoy this blog writing. Please leave a comment down below if you have any questions and I will try my best to answer them. Thank you!