My Journey in Applying for Fulbright Global UGRAD Exchange Program.

My journey began on 18th October 2016, when Morris Deri, now an alumnus for the program, was undergoing his exchange semester in Minnesota. During which he approached me with the prospect of applying for the same program. To put things into perspective, it was a flagship program performing under Fulbright Scholarship, a highly coveted scholarship sought by applicants of great stature and contributions. Knowing his idiosyncratic aptitude, it comes unsurprising to me when he secured the spot. I am on the other hand, at the opposings spectrum, and making it through the selection process was not an auspicious odd for me to hold. In all fairness and unbeknownst to most Razakians, prior to my degree, pursuing stellar results was not in my interest.

I was a problematic student, transferred to three different schools and subsequently earning a subpar result during my SPM, in my diploma neither did I fare a better tale to tell. The sole interest was then to find recognition among my reckless peers while pursuing a hedonistic lifestyle with little to care for my future. My current character, is a recent change I made to recourse my life for a better future, attributable to random encounter with strangers who empathized and believed in me. Nevertheless it is still a recent tale, pale in comparison to those who had always been a well-rounded achiever, those who I thought, had better chances than I did.

Even though people had faith in my capacity, as my aggressive character, said once by a person, would survive me through the academic environment of the United States. I was still nonchalant to the idea of making it through, and the endorsement did not convince me as a feasible venture to commit. For a while I remained in contemplation, sharing it only with those closest to me. All of which changed when my parents and strongest supporter pushed me to do so, despite of them knowing my rebellious history and futile attempts to obtain five different scholarships throughout my degree, they remained resilient in my ability. Armed with their blessing, I planned my steps.

My first challenge was to produce two essays. In order for me make the cut, I had to compose essays that suffices the quality of an outstanding student. Thanks to my engagement with UNIRAZAK’s academic and corporate social responsibility, the contents were in abundance, the issue however is in my writing and convoluted mind. Realizing this, I mustered enough courage to seek tutelage from two of TARSOG’s notable individual, known for their quality in education. Madam Jenny Gryzelius and Dr. Abdillah Noh. The latter was personally known to me, where his rigors on educational matters and being meticulous by not providing leeway has helped me to achieve a better standard. After an assiduous period of revisions, I submitted the essays along with other requirements for the application on 30th December 2016.

Passing the interview was the next challenge. In early February 2017, I received the momentous call from Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE) informing me as one of seven candidates qualified for an interview session. A backdrop of international appraisal unfolds upon me, and preparation was ever more pressing. Series of intensive mock interviews were done with the help of Madam Jenny and Dr. Abdillah, probing on a myriad of possible questions. At 9.30 am, 16th February 2017, the moment came when my name was called, having said my prayers, I greeted the interviewers and made my best introduction. Nothing, however, would have prepared me for a glance through the setting, my submitted dossier was resting on their table, and yet there was no need for them to review it while the interview was in session, as they have come to know the seven candidates by heart. Making the right choice, therefore, was their main objective. Unswayed and steadfast, I braved through the questions, and what was scheduled as a half an hour session, ended up consuming an hour worth of session. As I bid my farewell to the interviewers and other candidates, I was assured that a lengthy interview bodes a foreboding omen.

In the following days, I went to see the tutors who had tirelessly helped me through the process, and within the same thought, I recount my experience of the interview. Nonetheless, they held an optimistic view, and it was confirmed in March 2017. MACEE had revealed to me, my greatest achievement of all time. A euphoric moment struck me, with tears running its course, the realization of serving an exchange period of cultural contribution, sharing, and bonding in the United States was no longer an inauspicious odd. I was granted with the prestigious honor of being one of the five participants from Malaysia, departing to Florida in spring 2018. My life’s story, resolution, and commitment in giving back to society, turns out to be an important aspect of an outstanding candidate. Never had I been so wrong in my ability. Which is one of the compelling reasons that I have in writing this “synopsis”, to believe in oneself. Another reason was Professor Nik Rosnah belief on my story deserving a write-up, leaving an aspiring legacy for Razakians.

Thank you Professor Nik Rosnah for holding to my promise. To Global UGRAD, World Learning, MACEE, Fulbright Scholarship, and the United States Department of State, thank you for giving me this opportunity. A special thanks to the Dean and Deputy Dean of TARSOG Professor Dato’ Mohd Ibrahim and Dato’ Muhamad Hamzah for their encouragement and support, Dr. Abdillah and Madam Jenny for their unconditional dedication to me, Madam Esmat Levin for her psychological support, Ustaz Aizuddin Hakim for the platform and administration lessons in CSR, the Dean of CSASI Datin Nor Hafizah in her support, CLMS Mr. Razol Mahari and Madam Rosleen Khairi in their guidance, Ms. Harvinder Kaur and Mr. Khairi Ismail in their investment in me, and lastly, Morris Deri for his approach and suggestions. Overall, thank you everyone in UNIRAZAK, and most importantly TARSOG members, both lecturers and administrators in helping my undergraduate journey.

 


Ahmad Firdaus Bin Ahmad Azman, 3rd year Bachelor of Arts (Leadership) (Hons)