Hello everyone! I’m Alicia, currently reading Law in the University of Cambridge. I was the first undergraduate student to receive the Kijang Emas scholarship from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), and I’ll be sharing my experiences with you today.
First, a little bit about BNM and the scholarship itself! It’s the Malaysian central bank, and is dedicated to promoting sustainable growth in Malaysia. They strongly believe in developing human capital, and BNM’s Scholarship Programme aims at nurturing young talent. I was blessed enough to receive the Kijang Emas scholarship, which is a full scholarship. Students who are awarded this particular scholarship are not bonded to BNM, and are called to contribute back to Malaysia instead. Post-SPM students who receive this also have the option to select any course in any top university. BNM also offers their scholars the opportunity to participate in internships, usually during the summer. The details of the internships depend on the particular department, but all offer great opportunities to learn.
Securing the scholarship
My application experience was a little different, as I originally applied for the normal undergraduate scholarship, but was subsequently awarded the Kijang Emas scholarship. So, I will focus instead on the general content rather than the format of my assessment. If you would like to read about the usual procedures, you can read some of the other articles on CollegeLAH by BNM scholars.
During my interview, I was generally asked about my interest in my course (Law), and how I plan to cope with studying in the United Kingdom. At this stage, it is crucial to demonstrate a keep interest in your subject, as they want students who are passionate and who really love their subject.
Among the interesting questions I was asked was whether I think it is true that some people are simply born smarter than others. My response was that we can’t control the circumstances that we are born into. Some may come into families that are better suited to expose them to the world at an early age, thus making them “smarter,” but it is up to us to make the best of what we are given.
I was also asked questions like how I handle criticism. To this, I responded that I view it objectively, and absolutely welcome it if it comes with good reason. I related this to my homework (my A Level subjects were very essay-based) to say how I use criticism to improve the quality of my work.
Intellectually, if you are still studying when you apply, you should definitely pay extra attention to your revision, and think not just about how to score in the exam, but the additional skills they provide you with as a whole (Literature, for example, hones in on analytical skills). They may very well ask what your favorite subject in college (or secondary school) is, and you should be prepared to answer this question. Read through any essays you may have submitted with your application, and reflect on some of your major extra-curricular activities, determining what qualities you have gained from them. For example, how has participating in debate helped you grow? Is it relevant to your chosen course? Has it made your more eloquent and confident? Try to put a value to everything (relevant!) that you have done, and don’t just state the obvious.
In terms of your state of mind, try not to think too much. Whilst you definitely should prepare as much as you can, don’t stress yourself out. There is only so much that you can do, and they won’t expect you to know everything anyway. Remember that there is such a thing as over-preparing! Whilst you should have the general gist of your points, don’t memorise and reproduce your answers – be as natural as you can, and show your sincerity. Once your application process is over, put it aside, and focus on what you have at hand. Don’t agonise over any mistakes you may have made (unless you know how you can improve and still have upcoming assessments). Last but certainly not least, pray very hard, and leave the rest to God!
Applying for this scholarship and receiving it has definitely affected me greatly. The application process itself taught me a lot, and I value what I learned from my interview panel during the time I spent with them too. I also got to make friends with my fellow applicants, who are all brilliant in their own right, and I hope we get to meet again in the future.
Receiving the Kijang Emas scholarship has opened my eyes to see that it is possible, and that working hard really does pay off. It has been an invaluable experience, and I am truly grateful for this opportunity.
Alicia Loh is a Bank Negara Kijang Emas scholar who will be reading Law in the University of Cambridge. She gives all glory to God. She can usually be found with a book and lots of pink, and blogs at http://www.alicialoh.com, where she writes important things about life (such as her furry baby’s first time walking on grass). She also has an online shop called Openquote Designs selling printables.