Opportunities in Early Childhood Education: The Journey to Ireland
Ng Xu Xuan, ECE Class of 2014
Early Childhood Education, 1st Class Honours + Au paire, IT Tralee, IE
After completing her Diploma in Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Methodist College Kuala Lumpur (MCKL) in 2014, Ng Xu Xuan took a couple of months off to work before advancing to the Institute of Technology Tralee (IT Tralee), Ireland in order to upgrade her Diploma in ECE to an Honours Degree in Early Childhood Education. According to her, it was a very challenging and enriching experience:
“The staff at MCKL advised me to consider IT Tralee for further study, and I eventually chose it because they only required me to study for one more year to get my degree. I also liked the environment in a small and peaceful town.
“Getting First Class Honours wasn’t easy, as I needed to perform above an average of 70% in my coursework and exams to qualify, and although the professors were very helpful, spoon-feeding was out of the question. We all had to be hardworking, independent learners in order to make use of the huge amount of resources online and in the library.
“In addition, jumping into the final year meant that I had a lot of catching up to do because their ECE was so much further ahead of my experience level. But once I had put in the hours and effort to keep up, I realised that I had learned so much.”
Indeed, her trials in MCKL and IT Tralee had prepared her well, as Xu Xuan soon found opportunities for work within Ireland itself. Right after completing her degree, she began working as an au pair for a local family and spent up to seven months taking care of their young children, making full use of everything that she had learned in college and university. She described the experience as such:
“It was like being an in-house babysitter, although I felt more like a part of the family than it being a worker/employer relationship. I received a basic allowance and accommodations for my work, and it was a much more fulfilling arrangement than just studying because you can absorb the local culture and get hands-on experience whilst you are at it.”
Ng Xu Xuan has since returned to Malaysia, and is currently working in IGB International School as a classroom assistant for children in the 3-6 age range. She considers the international school system and facilities as something worth aspiring to, since it does a great job of balancing childcare with education in a supportive and well-equipped environment.
For those who wish to follow in her footsteps, she has this to say:
“If you are interested in caring for children, consider doing an ECE programme. ECE is not just about looking after kids; you also have to teach them effectively, and places like MCKL and IT Tralee can help a lot in preparing you for that one day.”
For those who share Ng Xu Xuan’s passion for teaching children, MCKL offers an affordable and comprehensive Diploma in Early Childhood Education programme that aims to prepare students for both work and further studies. MCKL has several partnered universities like IT Tralee, Ireland that allow advanced entry of MCKL graduates into 2nd or even 3rd year for their degree programmes, thus offering cost-effective pathways in terms of time and expenses to a career in educating young children, with plenty of job opportunities along the way.
Reaching High May Yield Surprising Results
Chan Yen Ping, A Level Class of 2013
BA Education with Physical Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK
My friend, Chan Yen Ping, or Yen as I call her, has an interesting story.
Malaysian born and bred, Yen’s early education journey was typical. She went to SJK(C) Kepong 2, a vernacular school for her primary education, and SMK Taman Bukit Maluri for secondary.
She then completed her A-levels at Methodist College Kuala Lumpur, or MCKL for short.
After her A-levels, Yen got accepted into a Bachelor of Arts programme at the University of Cambridge.
Yen never imagined she’d go abroad to study, what more the United Kingdom, and what more Cambridge.
It wasn’t so much an issue of limited ambition, rather her stumbling block was financial.
Maybe financial considerations did affect ambition.
“Thankfully, I had a really good school counsellor (in MCKL) who encouraged me to aim high and see if I could get a scholarship from the university,” said Yen.
“Cambridge happened to offer a course that attracted me (BA Education with Physical Sciences), and as I was always passionate about Malaysia’s education landscape and the teaching profession, I decided to accept the offer,” she adds.
“My family was planning to fund my Cambridge stint, however, more was needed to cover the costs”.
Fortunately, MCKL became her knight in shining armour. They offered to assist Yen.
“MCKL has always had teaching and nation building at the core of its institution, and when the CEO, Miss Moey Yoke Lai found out I was short on funds, the college immediately offered financial assistance”.
“Suffice to say, Cambridge was one of the best experiences of my life”.
Since that event in 2013, the MCKL Teaching Scholarship was established.
It functions as a partial support scholarship to fund the studies of MCKL alumni who are passionate about education, want to become teachers and contribute back to the college and Malaysian education.
To date, six MCKL alumni have benefited from the Teaching Scholarship, and the universities they have gone on to study at are Cambridge (2 people), Gloucestershire, York, Institute of Technology, Tralee, Ireland and Wheaton College, USA.
MCKL may just be the only Private Higher Education Institution in Malaysia to support their students to pursue teaching/education degrees abroad.
According to Mr Khoo Teng Sooi, Director of Institutional Development, MCKL, “We view teaching seriously. We want to encourage students who have interest in teaching and possess good academic qualifications to pursue their training in their field of study which is related to the need of education."
Yen adds, “I personally liken it to football clubs, where you can always buy and sell players, but nothing beats homegrown team players who live and breath the football club’s spirit and ethos.
Yen has since graduated and has just started teaching at MCKL, serving a 4-year bond.
Excitedly, she tells me “Being young and foolish, I would love to apply everything I’ve ever learnt into teaching locally, but I get that some things are more theoretical than practical, and others things more culturally bound.
“Nevertheless, I definitely see the value in training students to think independently through verbally asking them lots of guided questions in class, and also hopefully this leads to me asking myself bigger questions on how education can help develop Malaysia as a whole.”
Curious, I asked her what she thinks of our education system.
“So, I used to think our education system was bad, until I went to the UK and realised locals there complained about their own education system in exactly the same way as we do.
“I think no system is ever perfect, and especially if you are living in and feeling some attachment towards the country and its people, the (education) system’s flaws tend to appear more obvious compared to an outsider.
“What is important however, is for everyone to get involved and be on the same page to collaboratively improve the system.
“For example, if a parent came up to me and asked “Why doesn’t my child seem to be thinking like a chemist?” rather than, “Why isn’t my child getting As for chemistry?”, I believe it will help change my approach as a teacher.
Yen however, isn’t as optimistic on whether the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 can succeed.
Having read it from end to end, Yen feels that the Blueprint needs to be communicated clearly and that its spirit adopted by the wider community.
“If not, all the efforts will just depend on the government and Ministry of Education to execute, and that is a hefty burden to bear, especially when we are talking about the education of an entire nation”.
“All Malaysians, from the greatest to the smallest must sincerely ask themselves what they think should be the outcome of a Malaysian education experience and from there, actively try to make it a reality.
“For example, I have a friend who is encouraging fellow university students to go back to their schools during term break to give tutoring and reduce the teachers’ workload.
“I believe the efforts of people like her and many others, put people like me, who constantly sit around and complain, to shame,” Yen says with a smile.
I met Yen when she was interning with my office at the Ministry of Education back in 2014 as a Perdana Fellow. It’s heartening to see a private college support such endeavours to develop top teachers. This can only bode well for the future of the teaching profession in Malaysia, a step at a time.
by Danial Rahman, The Star Online
Reproduced with permission and first published on 5 August 2016.
A Semester in Oxford
Bryan Leong Ji-Yang, A Level Class of 2012
Dual-degrees: BS in Psychology, BA in Politics (International Relations), Messiah College Class of 2016
In the autumn semester of my third year, I decided to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Messiah College by applying to spend a semester at the University of Oxford. I was accepted into the rigorous Scholars’ Semester in Oxford to study “Theories of Government” and “Modern History”. Through the program, I was matriculated at Wycliffe Hall as a visiting student, allowing me access to Oxford’s facilities and amenities like all their students. This was an exciting time for my academic career, and looking back, I would not have imagined its far-reaching impact on my life.
Messiah College offers a variety of study abroad programs that go from America to Europe, Latin America to Africa to the Middle East, and even to Australia. Programs last for a month, a summer, or – in my case – a whole semester.
Not all of these programs are strictly academic; they vary in nature. A graphic design major might find inspiration studying renaissance art in Orvieto, Italy. Aspiring doctors can participate in Malaria research in Zambia, Africa. A political science student could intern at the British parliament. Are you talented in music? You could immerse yourself in one of America’s biggest music hubs – Nashville, Tennessee – where you will record, produce and perform songs while touring the country on concerts! Despite these great options, I chose to stretch my academic ability at the oldest English-speaking University in the world.
In preparation for my semester at Oxford, I was troubled by the costs and expenses associated with studying abroad. Fortunately, Messiah College is one of the few schools that generously transfer all your scholarship and financial aids into your choice of one semester abroad. After the processing, I found myself paying almost the same amount as I did for a regular semester at Messiah. Imagine that: paying the same amount to attend Oxford University instead of your home institution! Messiah College made it incredibly easy to pursue these opportunities.
At Oxford, I was immersed in its beautifully antiquated history and its unique academic culture. In the first three weeks, I had to produce three 10-15 page research papers on selected topics of British history. All students in the program bonded through the initial trials we faced adapting to this dynamic and independent method of learning. Besides that, we also had two tutorials and a seminar class in which we would produce a mini-thesis at the end.
Tutorials represented the bulk of our education there. In the application, I specified my desire to pursue tutorials in “Modern Japanese History” and “Theories of Government” because they would meet requirements for my degree back at Messiah College. Upon arrival, I was formally assigned to two Oxford professors that would mentor me on my chosen subjects. I met my tutor once every week (one-on-one) after producing a 10-page research paper – a task given to me the week before. We would then engage in constructive debate on the content of my essay, challenging my viewpoints and forcing me to defend my argument on the subject.
It was an ego-shattering experience having to pit my week-old knowledge of Rosseau’s Social Contract against Dr. Nicholas Cole, my Oxford tutor (or don) who is an expert in Classical and Contemporary Political Philosophy. Nevertheless, this is the essence of an Oxford education: training me to think analytically and wholesomely, write critically and articulate my viewpoints with grace and humility.
My time in Oxford made me realize how little I know and how dependent I needed to be on the Lord for academic wisdom, humility to learn gracefully from my tutor’s critical comments, and appreciation of the amazing opportunity to study at one of the best Universities in the world. I now laughingly describe how I had never before cried that much to God (and my friends and family, bless their souls) because of academic stress, but the experience was invaluable in shaping my thought process and writing style today.
I realized that when choosing a university, you want it to be a place you can both maximally grow and contribute into the lives of others. Some do that better at a big university (like Oxford) whilst others flourish in smaller schools (like Messiah College). Moving past the name and prestige associated with some schools, you want it to be a place that will mold you in the best possible way because – for those who have the opportunity – university may well be the place you begin to shape seriously your outlook on life and the future.
As I look toward graduation, I can testify to how short time is at university. So, take advantage of the opportunities, connections and experiences; make those 3 or 4 years count!
While at MCKL, Bryan was the Student Council President, a Stedfast Scholar and an exemplary student of impeccable character, earning him the CEO's Award upon graduation.
Germany, My Second Home
Chew Zhen Yin (Rachel), A Level Class of 2012
Mechanical Engineering, Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, DE
Left to right:
Neo Wei Sheng (Mechanical Engineering, Duisburg university)
Rachel Zhen Yin (Mechanical Engineering, Karlsruhe Institute for Technology)
Lin Hui (Automation Technology, Mannheim Hochschule)
Tah Hou Thin (Mechanical Engineering, Duisburg university)
I have been in Germany for more than a year now and I love Germany. I have moved to 3 different cities due to my studies and have met many people from different countries. I would like to share about my life in Germany and hope to encourage more Malaysian students to further their studies to Germany because it is a really beautiful country and the people are also very friendly.
Cologne is a city located at the west of Germany and I spent my first 6 months there. I was really lucky to be able to stay with a German family during my stay at Cologne because there were also other foreign students that stayed there. We would have dinner together with the family every day and we would talk throughout dinner, but the only rule was that we were only allowed to speak German. It was really difficult at the beginning because my German was not good enough and I was also shy to speak German. I did not speak much for the first few days in Germany as I was afraid that I would make mistakes and be laughed at. But after a few days, I was actually forced to speak German because everyone that I met in class or at home could not speak English. The only common language we had was German.
After spending 6 months in Cologne, it turned out that I could no longer speak fluent English with my family, even though English is my mother tongue. This time, my parents had a few laughs whenever I made mistakes in a simple English sentence. At times I could not even remember certain words in English.
I spent the next 6 months at Hamburg, another city located at the north of Germany. I took part in a preparatory course which was organised by the university to prepare foreign students for university as the lectures would be conducted in German. My classmates came from different countries and as expected, none of them could speak English. I have always thought that everyone would know how to speak English as it is an international language, but I was proven wrong. However, thanks to my friends and the surrounding that have forced me to speak German, I have managed to improve my German language in a short period of time and finally being accepted to the university that I have dreamed of.
I am currently studying Mechanical Engineering at Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) in Karlsruhe, which is also located at the west of Germany. If anyone of you wonder, all of my lectures and tutorials are conducted in German. So which means I have to put in more effort and do more self-study every day after lectures, which also includes studying at the library during weekends and having less free time.
The reason why I chose to further my studies to Germany is not to make myself suffer, but because I wanted to study Engineering and Germany is famous for its Engineering courses. Furthermore, the fees in German universities are much cheaper than that in other countries and I would say that it is almost free. Although I have to make some sacrifices like taking up German classes, putting more efforts in my studies as German is still a foreign language for me and being a year behind all my friends in studies, but I have never regretted that I chose this path.
Honestly, I was concerned at the very beginning that I might not be able to graduate from a German university because German is after all a foreign language and I might not be able to catch up with my studies. However, I am glad that I did not give up despite all the worries and although my journey from now on till I graduate will be tough, but I am sure that all the efforts I put in will be worth it at the end of the day.
Lastly, I hope that I did not frighten many students, who have interest in furthering their studies to Germany. I would actually like to encourage Malaysian students to step out of their comfort zone and come to Germany to study. It might be a challenging adventure, but it will be a satisfying one. If anyone of you are still concerned about the language, there are still bilingual courses offered by the German universities, which means that the lectures in the first year are conducted in English and from the second year onwards, it will be then conducted in German. I do have friends who are studying bilingual courses here in Germany.
I am willing to answer all the questions that you have, for example what should you do before you come to Germany and how much does the fees cost and etc. My email address is email@example.com .For anyone of you who are interested or curious about studies in Germany, you can send me an email and I will try to reply as soon as possible.
Aeronautical Engineering and Research Opportunities in the USA
Fong Kee Onn, A Level Class of 2012
Bachelor's Degree in Aerospace Engineering, University of Minnesota (UMN), Twin Cities, USA
A career in research is not commonly explored by many, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences for someone who seeks to challenge preconceived notions and expand the knowledge base of a particular discipline. My interest in research stems from an interest in science and engineering in general, particularly of physics and natural phenomena. However, it was not until I entered university that I discovered the path many researchers take in order to qualify as a researcher, which is the PhD.
After finishing my high school education, Methodist College was my choice institution in preparing for university. The small class sizes and higher teacher-student ratio were advantageous in student learning. However, while looking for a university to pursue my Bachelor’s degree, I decided to choose a large campus instead. With a diverse range of departments and student bodies, and depth in research to provide opportunities for students to get engaged in the forefront of research; a large research university would provide what I was looking for in my tertiary education.
Thus, I came to the University of Minnesota in September 2012. During my three years of undergraduate education here, I had the privilege of learning through classroom and hands-on experiences. I joined clubs such as the Solar Vehicle Project, representing the school in racing a solar-powered vehicle from Darwin to Adelaide, Australia. Besides engineering classes, I have also taken courses in cultural anthropology, black literature and rock music, which expanded my view and gave me new insights into racial issues and cultural identity. Finally, in the spring of my junior year I was scouted by newly-arrived Professor Filippo Coletti and was invited to collaborate with him in building a research facility for experimental fluid mechanics. I took up his offer, and I found myself enthralled with the research going on in fluid mechanics, trying to model fluid phenomena such as turbulence.
Two years later, I am now a PhD-track graduate student, working in the Laboratory of Complex Flows researching particle-laden flows. Specifically, it is the study of fluid with solid particles and how they affect the flow structure in the fluid medium. Particle-laden flow is of interest to researchers in order to come up with models for many problems, from deposition of soot in combustion engines to ocean droplet dispersion to assist in improving climate modelling. To seek an experimental approach to the problem, Professor Coletti and I have designed and built a vertical wind tunnel that channels air and microscale particles and investigate their flow fields with optical methods. An experimental approach provides data for computational experts to compare their work with and validate their models. Graduate students also go to conferences regularly to present their work to be scrutinized by other experts, and one such conference for us is the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics General Meeting, which takes place every year in November.
Finally, I would like to thank my former teachers in Methodist College, Mr Lopez and Ms Lim in providing me with a concrete mathematics and physics foundation on which I had built upon a career in engineering physics research. Should the reader have any enquiries about graduate school or engineering school in the United States, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So you want to do Engineering?
Nigel Ngiam, A Level Class of 2011
MEng in Chemical Engineering with Honours, University of Edinburgh Class of 2015
It is common knowledge that the engineering sector is one of the most lucrative. In fact, a considerable number of your peers in university will probably tell you that they are only putting themselves through the adversities of an engineering degree in order to reap the monetary gains which follow. However, there is so much more to it than the financial rewards alone.
When one applies to university, a personal statement is almost always required. I still keep a copy of mine, which I had submitted as part of the UCAS application process. I had made a commitment towards sustainable development, in particular, to help our country advance into a modernised nation without disregarding the environment. As I continue my search for a graduate job, it remains my aim to keep to those words which I had typed, five years ago.
Ultimately, engineering is, like all other lines of work, one of the pathways which God has blessed us with to be able to touch the lives of those who share this world with us. From the supply of potable water and electricity, to the manufacture of medicine and transportation, the opportunities are endless. It all boils down to one thing – what are you passionate about?
There is a widespread misconception that engineers need only excel in mathematics as well as the relevant sciences. This is far from being the case, as I draw on my personal experience of having done modules during my degree which were far from being “conventional”. Examples include Law (since every project is subject to regulations, and every invention needs to undergo patent control), as well as Economics (because the mass manufacture of most engineering products relies on their profitability).
In short, whilst pre-university will undoubtedly cover the fundamental prerequisites, one must also sharpen the mind in preparation for the significant escalation in academic complexity at degree level and beyond. One must be in touch with current affairs, for how are you to help others when you are not aware of whom to help and the nature of assistance required? Furthermore, the exploration of scientific literature will allow you to think outside the box and distinguish yourself from the swathes who squander their time on social media, entertainment news and computer games.
Nigel survived engineering school and graduated with his Masters degree, despite entering directly into the second year of his degree programme. He is currently working as a Chemistry Lecturer in MCKL.
A Practical, Affordable Pathway from College to University
Serene Tai, A Level Class of 2011
Bachelor's degree in Chemistry, Tennessee Technological University (TTU), USA, & PhD Degree in Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh, USA
Three years ago, studying abroad was something that I really hoped for but knew that my family could never afford. I attended many foreign university education fairs hoping that I would be able to find an affordable university, but I was always disappointed. Just as I was about to give up on my dream, the program counselor at Methodist College Kuala Lumpur recommended that I apply to Tennessee Technological University (TTU), USA after matching it with my A levels results and financial background.
I am glad I tried, because I was awarded the Honors and Multicultural Diversity Scholarship to study Chemistry at TTU and I also found a part-time job on campus as a tutor to help offset my expenses. The International Education Office also helped me to adapt to local culture by hosting many activities and events in the first few weeks.
Many universities in the US offer summer research programs for undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience working in a real laboratory. During the summer break, I was given a stipend to work as a research assistant in the lab of my Chemistry professor. I was able to collaborate with the top scientists/researchers in my field, work with many advanced scientific instruments, and present my research work in various state and national Chemistry conferences around the US. It was amazing to learn so many techniques and acquire knowledge that would not have been available in a normal undergraduate class.
Subsequently, my two-year research was successfully published in a few scientific journals. During my senior year, I was very delighted and thankful to be chosen as the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Liberal Arts 2014-2015, which is the highest award in the College of Arts and Sciences in TTU.
I am currently pursuing my PhD degree in Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh after graduating from TTU with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. (Yes, in the US you can apply to a PhD program directly with a Bachelor’s degree!) With all my experience in research, I was granted a full tuition scholarship and a research fellowship.
I firmly believe that my pre-U studies in MCKL had been a great stepping stone for my tertiary education. MCKL is where I learned to discover my interests and to pursue my ambition fearlessly. I am forever grateful for God, my family, professors and staff members from Tennessee Tech, as well as those who have prepared me at MCKL. Without their support along the way, I would not have been where I am today.
Are you an alumni with a tale to tell? Write in to email@example.com wiht your full name, programme and cohort, and send us your stories with some pictures. We'd love to hear all about your experiences and share it with others!