My heart was pounding. I did not know what was ahead of me, while at the same time I needed to watch my back in case any officers find me suspicious and throw me out. But I kept walking until I reached the last room. Indeed, it was the Dean’s room! I stood at the door, not knowing what to do. Suddenly, the door just opened! A kind-looking middle-aged man greeted me with a smile, and asked if I were there to meet him! I was dumbfounded.
The Dean asked me to wait a while outside his room, so he could settle with another student first. As soon as his door was closed, the secretary who was sitting in the next room charged over and reprimanded me for not following the protocol of checking with her first! I just kept quiet.
When the Dean finally came out again and received me into his office, I could not hold back my tears anymore. In desperation, I told the Dean why I wanted to study psychology and how hard I had fought with my parents, just to get into the psychology program. He listened quietly, took out his pen and jotted a few lines on my application form, granting me the green light to transfer to psychology. Being an anthropology professor himself, he also advised me to stay in the anthropology and sociology department, so that I can develop a broader perspective on human studies.
With that, I was finally able to study psychology. For the subsequent three years, I worked harder because I know this is a path that I have chosen and it did not come easy. I truly enjoyed studying psychology and felt lucky that I could learn and do what I love every day! Moreover, my Dean, Dr. Shamsul Amri Baharuddin became a significant mentor in my professional development. He offered me opportunities for various international exchanges or seminars and gave me valuable advice when I was applying to further my studies in the United States. As busy as he was, he wrote several letters of recommendation, which paved the way for me to receive a Fulbright scholarship and enroll in a graduate school in the US. In hindsight, the “closed-door” back then turned out to be a blessing in disguise, leading me to meet significant people who assisted me along my life path.
Dear friends, no matter what hardships you may be facing now, I hope that you will hold on to your beliefs – because the Divine Goodness may be leading you to meet that significant person in your life. And through this person, more doors of growth and expansion may be opened up for you!
A Story About Letting Go
After completing my undergraduate, I applied for graduate school in the US and Fulbright scholarship. Somehow my mind was fixated only on going to the US, and nowhere else. Maybe I’ve always had an “American Dream” in my heart!
I was working in a non-profit organization then. One day, my boss introduced me to his friend, who’s a professor from an American public university. The professor was keen to help me with my application and even be my supervisor. According to the university’s tradition, an application process would be much easier if a student gets a recommendation from a professor. In fact, he was very confident that I could get a scholarship at the university as well. The only thing was: his university offers only Mental Health Counselling and not Clinical Psychology. But as he explained, both programs share the same nature of work scope; they just have different names.
I was encouraged by such a good opportunity, especially in view of the fact that I had already been rejected by two or three universities at that time. And the process of applying for Fulbright scholarship had been far from smooth or straightforward. Even the coordinator from the Fulbright Commission had advised me to accept the professor’s offer, in order to secure a higher chance of getting the scholarship, lest I end up getting nothing at all!