I want to do Mass Communications or Event Management, mom.
I think it is better if you pursue a usual pre-university course first.
Little did I know that I would end up being called for National Service and have to take STPM instead. Life is not always a bed of roses; I was worried about my mother’s financial burden as she is a single parent raising two children without any additional financial support. I also worked part time as a tuition teacher to supplement her income.
After SPM, it was STPM. So what came after STPM?
I still want to do Mass Communications or Event Management, mom.
And I still think it is better if you pursue a more professional degree.
Once again, I listened to her advice and pursued a degree in Nutrition at a local university. It was not too bad, considering that I loved health sciences. Yet, something was missing. You see, I had always been an outgoing girl, eager to meet new people and organise events. My dream was to work in the mass communications sector, whether it was in event management or public relations.
Alas, I had not taken any steps towards the fulfilment of this dream because my elders had encouraged me to secure a professional degree. I felt that I was studying for the sake of graduating. Then I asked myself, “Is this how I want my university life to be?” Clearly, the answer was No.
You may wonder what I did next. Maybe I took a bold step, dropped my current course, and headed straight for a degree in Mass Communications? Well, I chose to look at the situation from a different perspective. I decided to make full use of my current degree and merge it with things I liked to do – mass communications and event management. That was when I joined an international youth organization called AIESEC in 2006. It was a place where I discovered and developed my potential by participating in leadership seminars and organising various projects.
We also reached out to marginalised communities such as sex workers, people living with HIV, and transsexuals. My most memorable experience is 2008’s HIV/AIDS project, which aimed to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS and reduce stigmatisation. Memories which will forever be etched in my mind include seeing healthy youths talking proactively to these marginalised groups to know more about the challenges they face, and also passionately raising funds to help HIV/AIDS high risk groups. I knew we impacted those youths, and I hope they will pass on the knowledge they gained and inspire others with their informed attitudes.
Another great experience was in 2009 when I took a great step forward to join the congress committee for the AIESEC International Congress, which took place in Malaysia. This is AIESEC’s largest annual conference, where 600 youth leaders from over 100 countries across different cultures, beliefs, and values come together to make our world a better place. The period of working with the congress committee was my once in a lifetime experience, where I worked with 50 people from 20 countries and made many international friends. I was overjoyed by the many soft skills I gained from what I did, and believed that all these experiences would put me in good stead for the future.
Furthermore, I held on to my dream when the time came for me to choose my industrial training ground. I received many suggestions of well-known food nutrition companies. However, I chose to do what I loved and wanted to learn more about. It took a while but I finally found the exact company I wanted – a health communication company. I felt satisfied when I succeeded, for it proved anew that we should never give up our dreams easily. Never assume the ‘herd mentality’ just because people doubt your decision.
There is so much to discover in life. You have to experiment with many things before knowing where your true potential lies. University life is a fabulous platform for you to discover and develop yourself. Explore yourself thoroughly; work hard on goals you want to achieve, meet different people, and gain more experience in order to be better equipped for the working world.
Throughout my university journey thus far, I have met different people from different countries while organising projects and events. I have learnt a lot from inspiring leaders. I have broadened my perspective on life and built a wide, diverse circle of friends. I have tried, failed, and then succeeded. I have my dreams, and you have yours. I am finally working my way towards mine. This is my story, and I would love to hear yours in the future.
Lim Rue-Hann is a local university student who finds joy in organising events, piloting projects, and championing charity initiatives. She loves making friends of different nationalities and enjoys meeting people from all walks of life, be it fellow students, sex workers, or senior executives.
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.
Click here for more articles.