Deputy Dean (UG), Department of Restorative Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Malaya
At Eastman I took the Master of Clinical Dentistry in Endodontology course from the year 2000 to 2002. Under the guidance of Dr. Dave Spratt (microbiologist) and supervised by Prof. Kishor Gulabivala and Dr. Paul Ng, I studied oral microbiology in relation to endodontics research. It was a whole new experience for me to be studying biology in depth and it was very interesting indeed.
The Institute was recommended by my colleagues at University Malaya. Many of the teaching staff are Eastman Dental Institution’s alumni (they did the1-year MSc in Conservative Dentistry back then). I was the 2nd batch of the two-year MClinDent programme. With a long history of success and excellence in the field of dentistry, Eastman was an obvious choice really.
The course I was on happened to be the busiest course with very packed timetable. As a mother of two, of which one was only a five-month old baby, it wasn’t easy to juggle between motherhood and studying, to say the least. But with perseverance anything is possible; I’m a firm believer.
I remember my daily routine back then was to leave home at 7:00am for the tube station Walthamstow Station (zone 3) to King’s Cross tube station (zone 1) and I would get there at about 8:15am. As soon as I arrived I would prepare for clinics or laboratory works/seminar and would usually only go home at 8:00pm. Long days indeed…
But I remember how the long days felt a lot shorter too because I actually enjoyed being there. As a prestigious institution, Eastman attracted many international students. Due to this, local staff and students were so used to having international students around. We were made to feel welcomed and our different faiths and beliefs respected. As a Muslim, I was delighted to know that there was an allocated prayer room for us. And when the Muslim community got bigger, the prayer room was relocated to a new, more spacious place in the basement. I remembered feeling very thankful for the room since life as mature students was quite tense and stressful so having a room to de-stress ourselves in between classes was indeed a blessing.
Two years passed by very quickly for me and one of the reasons for that was because of the great moral support that I received from my own family, Malaysian friends and fellow friends (shout out to Nicky, Roopi and Peng from Singapore!) throughout my studies there. We were living in a community and it was like being home away from home for us.
Classes were conducted together with the MSc Endodontics students and it was a melting pot of all nationalities and races. Everybody got along well thankfully and we became good friends who still keep in touch with each other to this very day.
The fondest memory during my time there would have to be the meals that we had together as a group; our bonding sessions of sort. Our friends became the family members (whom we were missing so dearly) during the meals. Laughing, talking, and gossiping together. It was therapeutic. Everyone was just so supportive of each other, and looking back I think that was one of the major reasons I was able to successfully complete my studies at Eastman besides having great and helpful teaching staffs (full and part timers).
After graduating from Eastman, I went back to my lecturing job at the Restorative Dentistry Department, University Malaya end of 2002 and currently I am also serving as Deputy Dean for the Undergraduates there.
One of my main focuses at the moment is to improve the undergraduate programme as we move away from discipline-based curriculum towards the integrated curriculum. Of course with this move also comes the challenge of preparing the academic staff for the transition in order to ensure our students will still get the maximum benefit and the programme will not be disrupted.
Juggling teaching (undergraduate and postgraduate), development of curriculum, research and publication (aiming for ISI journal) and clinical services all at the same time is quite challenging and demanding though and sometimes it is overwhelming. But one must plough through for the sake of the future generation right?
As for future plans, I see the work I am doing now as on-going for many, many more years to come, in line with the advancement of medicine and technology. Therefore I will keep working hard alongside my colleagues in order to make the experience of studying at the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Malaya as the best experience for our students.
My studies at Eastman and the knowledge I acquired had definitely helped me in my teaching career. It gave me the confidence to share and impart the same knowledge to my students.
Furthermore, studying at Eastman had also prepared me for the long hours and the stress involved in becoming a successful lecturer and administrator. I would like to think that the whole experience had given me GRIT