LIVE & LEARN

“The more experience we gain, the more progress we can make.”- Florence Nightingale



It was Saturday, 14 December 2013. I was 61 and felt like I was on cloud nine as I led the graduates of OUM’s 15th Convocation down the aisle of Merdeka Hall, Putra World Trade Centre. No words could describe how I felt at the time. I was honoured, grateful and proud of what I had achieved.

I remembered Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and thought of my own dream of putting on that round hat and clinching a scroll that said, “PhD”. On that day, I could say that with Allah’s blessing, I had done it!

I have been a nurse for 46 years, but the PhD is definitely the icing on the cake. Calling myself Dr Rohani sounded strange at first, but as I recalled all the hard work and sacrifices, the title “Dr” began sounding like music to my ears.

After graduating, new opportunities emerged both locally and abroad. In early 2014, I was selected to attend an advanced leadership programme at the Global Nursing Leadership Institute in Geneva, Switzerland, along with 34 other nursing leaders from 30 countries.

The same year, I was awarded the Exemplary Nurse Award by the Malaysian Nurses Association (MNA). I am the only nurse to have received this award twice: once by the MNA and another by the Ministry of Health Malaysia, which I received in 2004.

I have also been invited to speak at local and international conferences. In 2014, I became the first Malaysian nurse to deliver a keynote address at a health campaign launched by the Bruneian Ministry of Health. That year, I also got a chance to speak at the World Council of Enterostomal Therapists Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, and at the Nurses Day celebration held by the MNA.

Over the years, I have also had the privilege of conducting leadership workshops for nursing leaders organised by public and private health organisations in Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Pakistan.

I also continued writing, reaching another personal milestone by publishing an autobiography entitled The Impact of Being a Nurse. Last year, I added another feather to my cap when I wasappointed to the Medical Research Ethics Committee of the University of Malaya Medical Centre.

I joined MAHSA University as the first Director of the Postgraduate Studies Centre in 2007. I’m still there today, as Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery.

None of this would have been possible without Allah’s blessings and the PhD I obtained from OUM. I want to thank OUM for helping me to achieve my true potential. With all that I have gained, I hope to empower, enrich and enhance the healthcare community, especially nurses.



PERSONALITY



A book entitled Miri, Then and Now, hit the shelves of major bookstores in May last year. The book was produced by the Society of English Writers in Sarawak Northern Zone (Soswe) to provide the younger generation with information on the city’s history. Written by vounteers, the 73-page book recorded the development of Miri in more than two decades.

What makes this book significant to us is that one of our alumni had a hand in its publication. Jamila Bibi Abdul Basah, who graduated with a Master of Education (MEd) in 2014, had contributed a segment on the Miri River.

Says Jamila, who is a Miri resident and Soswe committee member, “The Miri River has undergone many changes to become what it is today. Some of the areas along the river were sacrificed to give way to new townships and landmarks for the city. Some were completely gone, leaving only signboards as memory.

“To find out more about the changes, I interviewed one of the most influential figures in Miri, Tuan Haji Talhah Haji Mansor. Born in 1936, he had settled in Kampung Dagang, which was a village located along the riverbank. He told me of many important events which had occurred in the village. Today, the place where Kampung Dagang once stood has become part of the Miri waterfront. The only legacy left is a road called Jalan Sri Dagang.”

Jamila, 65, is a retired headmistress with four decades of teaching experience. “I underwent teacher training from 1973 to 1974. After graduation, I taught in three secondary schools for 16 years before moving on to a primary school where I served from 1991 to 1996.”

Her career rose further as she was then promoted to school inspector, a post she served for four years before becoming a headmistress. She retired the same year she obtained her master’s degree, so promotions weren’t what motivated her to further her studies.

Says Jamila, “I wanted to upgrade myself as I know that life is a journey of education. I wanted to prove that age isn’t a barrier to achieve dreams and goals.”

She is grateful to OUM for enabling her to continue her studies. “With the flexible hours, I was able to arrange my schedule to study while still working. The staff were friendly and always helpful. The lecturers helped me complete my assignments and supported me whenever I encountered problems with my research. Even though MEd was a tough programme, I passed.”

Jamila adds, “I gained much experience from reading lots of research articles, journals and working papers, which helped me a lot in co-writing Miri, Then and Now.”

She continues to be active past retirement. Besides Soswe, she is also involved in other committees such as for the Global Women’s Peace Network Malaysia, Sarawak Retired Teachers Association, Piasau Nature Park and Gymkhana Club of Miri, as well as two schools.

“While I was serving in the Education Ministry, I was always busy with school life. Now that I have retired, I can devote my time to the hobbies I love.”

Jamila also has a high regard for lifelong learning. She says, “We should never stop learning as it helps those who have reached retirement age to avoid dementia.”



WORLD VIEW



The Sungai Kim Kim toxic pollution incident,which affected more than 2,000 people and caused the temporary closure of 111 schools in Pasir Gudang, Johor, last March turned the spotlight on an increasingly dire environmental problem in Malaysia.

Sadly, this was not an isolated case and river pollution is nothing new in Malaysia. The Malaysian Nature Society revealed that Sungai Tengkorak and Sungai Jelutong have also been used as illegal dumping grounds. Others, like Sungai Masai, Sungai Semilang and Sungai Permas are suspected of being treated as dumpsites as well. And these are only cases in Johor.

Other states are faring no better. The coastal areas around Teluk Bahang, Penang, are suspected of being polluted with heavy metals while Sungai Inanam and Sungai Danau in Sabah have already been contaminated with pesticides and fertilisers. Many cases are said to be unreported or undiscovered. According to the Department of Environment, in 2017, an estimated 11 percent of the 189 main river basins in the country are polluted.

Inadequate environmental protection, combined with public apathy, limited enforcement and weak laws and regulations, are the main reasons behind these cases, which often involves pollutants from by-products of residential activities, livestock and agriculture production, and various forms of industrial waste.

“Environmental quality significantly affects lives,” says Senior Lecturer at the Cluster of Applied Sciences, Suhaila Abdul Hamid. “Improperly managed hazardous waste poses a serious threat to human health and the environment.

“The catastrophic Sungai Kim Kim incident opened our eyes to the truth about river pollution in this country. If you notice any illegal dumping activities, be sure to report them to the relevant authorities.”

“Industries should take up the ‘Responsible Care’ initiative by ensuring safe and responsible handling and disposal of chemicals,” adds Suhaila, who is the Programme Director for Master of Occupational Safety and Health Risk Management.

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) plays a major role in this. Among the relevant regulations which have been introduced is the Use and Standards of Exposure of Chemicals Hazardous to Health. It provides a legal framework to control exposure to hazardous chemicals at the workplace, thus helping OSH officers to ensure a safer and healthier environment for employees.

OSH officers could also provide advice on OSH policies, risk management, assurance and promotion, to help create a safe work environment where employees can avoid injury, use resources efficiently, prevent pollution, and improve protection of biodiversity.

Education plays an important role too. At OUM, OSH programmes at the bachelor and master levels specifically address the issue of environmental management through courses that discuss environmental legislation and management systems, environmental risk assessment, social impact assessment and life cycle assessment.



WORK & STUDY



Edwin Anak Agam, 47, takes immense pride in his career as a teacher at Sekolah Kebangsaan Nanga Spak, Betong, Sarawak.

He drew inspiration for teaching from his father, who was also a teacher. Edwin says, “My father is the reason I pursued my dream of becoming a teacher. I was inspired by the passion he showed for this fulfilling profession.”

It has been 22 years since he landed his first teaching job in 1997. Today, with years of experience teaching Bahasa Melayu and Pendidikan Moral, Edwin continues to treasure every moment he spends with his students.

“I teach Reka Bentuk dan Teknologi too, a new subject introducedin 2014. Every subject andstudent brings about challenges but at the end of the day, I feel that it is all worth it. It’s rewarding to be able to instil good values in my students no matter what I teach.”

Apart from teaching, this Sarawak-born teacher also finds strength and peace in the Korean martial art of taekwondo.

“I started taking taekwondo lessons since I was 15 years old. I’ve always enjoyed the discipline, the exercise and the confidence I feel after training. I also enjoy the company of fellow taekwondo enthusiasts around me.”

Through decades of training and hard work, Edwin has managed to compete in various school, district and state championships and even won several medals. His highest achievement was when he was selected to represent Sarawak at SUKMA 1992, a biannual Malaysian Games held for young athletes from across the country.

Today, he is the Assistant Coach at Sri Sibu Taekwondo Club, where he continues to show keen interest in teaching taekwondo to the younger generation.

Edwin completed the Bachelor of Business Administration programme in 2007 at Sibu Learning Centre and thinks the programme has helped him a lot, especially in his career.

“I am currently on track to a DG48 promotion,” Edwin says proudly. “And it’s all thanks to OUM for giving me the opportunity to pursue a degree.”

Blessed with a supportive and understanding wife and three wonderful kids, Edwin recalls a bittersweet experience studying at OUM more than a decade ago.

“My wife has been the backbone of the family. She sacrificed time and money to support our family, taking care of our small children back then when I was busy with studies and away for tutorials on weekends.”

When asked about the future, Edwin says he would like to see his children lead successful lives with fulfilling careers of their own.

“And I dream of running my own business one day. Hopefully I can apply all the things I learnt back then!”



POINTERS



Are you thinking of dumping your current job and going for another? Maybe you are feeling stuck, bored and unmotivated during working hours. Or maybe your gut instinct is saying that you are destined for greater things in life?

Here’s a shocking piece of information from the United States – the average worker holds more than 10 different jobs before reaching 50! So, you need not be afraid of changing jobs a few times before you find the ideal fit.

Compared to previous generations, it is easier for people to change careers today. The range of professions and industries have greatly increased and you can even choose whether you want to work regular or flexible hours, full-time or part-time, in an office or from home.

However, keep note of the saying, “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”. If you want to change careers successfully, it is best that you prepare well for it. Here are some things you can do:

• Evaluate your current job – Write down what you enjoy and don’t enjoy doing in your current work. This will give you an idea of what you want to do more and what you don’t want to do anymore.

• List down your passions ¬ Identify what you enjoy doing outside of work. Some passions can be turned into paying jobs. Stephen King the author was once a high school janitor with a passion for writing.

• Evaluate your skills – Communication, decision-making and problem-solving as well as technical and project management skills are some examples of what employers look for in potential employees.

• Check your finances – Do you have enough money to cover your living expenses and pay for emergencies while you are in the midst of changing careers? Sometimes, changing careers comes with a temporary pay cut. And if you decide to go freelance, you need to be ready for unsteady income.

• Consider getting another qualification – Sometimes a solid paper qualification can greatly augment your existing knowledge and experience. You can work and return to study at OUM, which now offers both blended and beyond blended modes of learning for added convenience.

• Make a list of job requirements – Write down what you expect from your next job: salary range, benefits, fixed or flexible schedule, less or more work-related travel and so on. The goal is to know what you need and want in a new career. This will help you in evaluating job opportunities and deciding which one to pursue.

• Talk to people – Sometimes who you know is as important as what you know. Ask friends or family members if they know people who are working in the line you are interested in. It’s okay to contact them and ask about possible opportunities.

The retirement age in Malaysia is 60. However, if you are already in your 40s or 50s, this doesn’t mean it’s too late to get out of a rut and into a new career. If Tun Mahathir Mohamad could come out of a 15-year retirement to become a Prime Minister for the second time at the age of 92, there is still hope for you.