By AZLYN BALQIS
I never really had a dream. Sure, everyone has their own childhood dream to pursue when they are all grown up. Unfortunately, things change and situations change, especially when you are 17 years old with your mediocre SPM results in hand.
I was neither brilliant nor hardworking enough to be in the Science stream, but I was also not really interested in the Home Economics stream. I ended up in the middle with Accounts, Additional Mathematics, and Economics – subjects I never really understood, and subjects I knew I probably would not end up pursuing.
My disinterest hit me hard, as my subpar results did not qualify me for a government scholarship, nor did they get me entry into any government university. All around me, my classmates were discussing plans of attending government universities. The richer ones were contemplating London, Australia, and the United States.
And then there was me – without an offer in hand, without anywhere I really wanted to go. To add salt to the wound, I did not even know what I wanted to pursue in the first place! But I was sure of one thing: I still wanted an education. I knew that having that piece of paper in my possession was vital for my future.
I consulted friends, family, neighbours, lecturers, and eventually decided on Mass Communications. I loved meeting people, planning events, and anything pertaining to the media and entertainment industry. Blame the fame and glamour of it all – that got to me!
I Googled universities and colleges, but everything was insanely expensive without the help of doting parents or the procurement of scholarships. After more extensive researching, I narrowed it down to the then cheapest choice – KDU College – for my parents were not really well off, although we live comfortably and I am blessed to have enough to live my life with. However, a diploma in Mass Communications at KDU would have cost a whopping RM24, 000, not including books and miscellaneous fees.
I tried applying for government loans, time-consuming as they were. I filled tons of forms meticulously, but my attempts were futile as I am a Singaporean and could not qualify for a loan. So I decided to take things into my own hands, and visited bank after bank to apply for my own student loan. But every bank told me the same thing – that I needed a guarantor. I had no choice left by then, and with a heavy heart, I asked my mother to help by being a guarantor. She turned me down, and even though it broke my heart back then, I now understand that she probably had her own reasons.
In the end, it was my father who came through for me. I know it was not easy for him back then as he was going through a divorce with his second wife, but he never hesitated to help fund my studies when I was left at a dead end.
With that, I finally enrolled as a KDU student under the Mass Communications faculty in August 2003. I still remember how much I hated asking my father for money every time semester fees were due. However, knowing that he was working hard to help me pay off my tuition fees only motivated me to work that much harder.
I graduated in 2006, on course. Some friends failed to pull through, but I did not have the luxury of failing. I literally could not afford to fail a single subject, as it was too expensive for both my father and I. Going up on stage during graduation and receiving my diploma was by far one of the proudest moments in my life, especially since I did not fare so well during SPM.
That was three years ago, and I have held several jobs since I graduated. I have met celebrities, mingled with KL’s creme de la creme, helped write scripts for top television shows, worked as an event coordinator at one of KL’s hottest nightclubs, slaved in a public relations firm, and written press releases for some of Malaysia’s top brands. Today, I write the news for Malaysia’s top English radio stations, which goes live everyday. We bring the country the most important updates and news on Malaysia and the world.
I never knew I would get this far in my life, and it never once crossed my mind that I would have this amazing opportunity to do what I do because I was clueless as to where I would be after SPM. To be honest, I still do not know where I am going today, but what I do know is that life keeps on moving and the world keeps on spinning, and like them, I do not plan to stop anytime soon.
Azlyn Balqis is guilty of always splurging on good food and cheap clothes. A Mass Communications graduate of KDU College, she currently writes (and reads!) the news for Hitz FM. Click here for more articles.
Note: The above entry was written in 2010 for What’s After SPM?, published in 2011. This non-for-profit book project is a collaboration between Leaderonomics and a team of young Malaysians. Click here for details on the project and authors.