For many individuals and communities, education is the best way to transform lives and build up society. No one should be deprived of education, especially if he or she has shown an aptitude for learning and yearns to achieve more. For many of today’s top leaders, especially those who came from humble backgrounds, completing their education was the springboard to their success, and often was made possible through scholarships.
Calvin Yee Kim Guan, a JPA scholar who studied the Cambridge A Levels programme at INTI International College Subang in 2016.
Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, for example, was awarded The National Merit Scholarship in 1973; Bill Clinton, the former president of the United States, attended the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown with the aid of scholarships and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 1968; Peter A. Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, was the recipient of The National Merit Scholarship in 1985.
In Malaysia, one of the notable scholarships that high achievers aim for is none other than the Public Service Department’s (or ‘JPA’ in Bahasa Malaysia abbreviation) Scholarship.
When Calvin Yee Kim Guan, 22, decided to study the Cambridge A Levels programme at INTI International College Subang in 2016, he was fortunate to qualify as a JPA Scholarship recipient. Calvin received a full, unconditional scholarship without being bound by any terms and conditions, even though JPA had started to convert its much sought after scholarship into convertible loans in that particular year1.
“To my surprise, I was listed as one of the candidates who were eligible for a full JPA Scholarship. This was something I had aimed for since the beginning of secondary school and I pushed myself to achieve excellent SPM results in order to qualify. With this scholarship, I have managed to pursue an exceptional tertiary education overseas without burdening my family,” said Calvin, who is now a third-year Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biological Sciences student at Lancaster University, United Kingdom.
Calvin is fascinated by genetic research and hopes to pursue a career in that field.
Recalling the important transition from being a schoolboy at High School Klang to a Pre-U student at INTI, Calvin shared, “I chose A-levels because I had no idea what to pursue after I completed my studies at secondary school. According to many people that I spoke to then, A Levels was the safest option and was also a pathway to pursuing overseas studies. I decided to take up all the science subjects for my A Levels, including Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths. Through this programme, I met loads of intelligent peers as well as amazing lecturers who helped me with my studies whilst I was at INTI.”
Calvin achieved high score in each –subject, including 1A* (A star) in Biology; and 3As in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics. With these flying colours, he was accepted by Lancaster University to study his favourite programme.
“I had initially applied for Oxford and still dream of going there one day, maybe for my masters or PhD studies,” enthused the high scorer who continues to aim high.
Studying biological sciences at Lancaster University’s first-class, multimillion-dollar facilities, Calvin hopes to become a scientific researcher in the future.
“I imagine myself doing lab work every single day in the future. The thought of handling research independently or with a team of outstanding researchers excites me because that is where I can pursue loads of thoughts and questions, and discover solutions that may help others,” said the inspiring undergraduate.
“I am particularly interested in genetics and hope to pursue a career in genetic research. During my first year at the university, I studied modules that have helped me expand on my understanding of genetics. I have also carried out many laboratory practicals throughout the year which has helped me improve my research skills,” said Calvin, who will graduate in June 2021.
Among his goals after graduation, Calvin hopes to secure a role as a research assistant for a year or two, before he continues with his master’s degree. Realising the challenges of the present job market, however, Calvin may consider pursuing his masters and PhD first, before starting his career as a scientific researcher.
Calvin Yee Kim Guan taking a walk on the Lancaster wood trail on campus.
“I am still creating a path and constantly questioning myself about my future. Quality education can be very expensive and time-consuming. While financial issues can be a challenge in pursuing higher education, we should never give up on finding a means to achieve our goals – especially if we are determined to create a better life,” Calvin shared.
Having lost his father at a young age, Calvin was raised by his mother and grandparents and understands the value of ‘being positive’ in life.
“Staying positive allows me to look at the brighter side of things. I like working in groups as that allows me to expand my knowledge, gain different perspectives, and share experiences with diverse individuals,” said the energetic young man who also engages in co-curricular activities such as parkour and tricking – a kind of physical training that develops one’s ability to overcome physical and mental obstacles, coupled with freestyle movements for aesthetic purposes – as well as boxing, badminton and first aid.
“These activities are a welcome relief from my studies, and provide me with other handy skills required in life,” concludes Calvin, who continues to overturn the stereotype of a typical scientific scholar.