What inspired you to do a PhD?
After working for several years in one of Malaysia's public university institutions, completing a PhD is my dream. That dream was also triggered by my former experience in a summer course during my master's level, in which I was investigating the participation of local people in economic and development projects in both the states of Malaysia and Thailand. The different natures and practises of public participation in both states and the different outcomes had made me feel something needed to be explored, especially in the public participation of local people in decision making in Malaysia’s local economic programme. After receiving a scholarship from my government, I decided to pursue my PhD abroad in order to master new knowledge from a renowned supervisor and public university in the UK. I was then supervised by the eminent supervisor, Professor Alan Walker who is an expert in the study of social policy and political sociology. The experience of the UK’s public participation and economic development programmes has enlightened my study in Malaysia’s context. This enabled me to investigate and articulate the similarities and differences in public participation practised in the United Kingdom in order to comprehend the current state of public participation in Malaysia. Along the way, I would say one memorable experience, which I really appreciated, was when I was supervised by Professor Alan Walker. He was very knowledgeable, brilliant, empathetic, compassionate, resourceful, and full of experience in supervising international students. In my own experience, the supervisor was critical in guiding and ensuring the successful completion of a PhD student.
What was the biggest highlight of your PhD? Similarly, what was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered was when I went for fieldwork in Malaysia. Before going into the villages at the state level I’ve decided to go to several villages for data collection. However, during the fieldwork process one of the villages was not able to provide me with a lot of information and tease out important information related to my study. So that I need to reselect the villages and start all over again after 3 weeks of data collection. It was a waste of time. Despite all the hurdles I faced in contacting new village leaders and public officials, I didn't regret it because I knew if I didn't change, I couldn't get answers to my study. My PhD journey was very challenging, but it groomed me to be an independent researcher and adaptable to unforeseen circumstances. After several years, I managed to finish my PhD journey successfully, despite the challenges I faced.
Apart from that I really enjoyed being in the department of sociological studies because all the staff and other postgraduate students were very friendly and welcoming. I had a nightmare experience with my former supervisor before changing to the department of sociological studies under Alan’s supervision. That was the time I almost gave up on myself and didn't believe I could pursue my PhD again but after I joined the department of sociological studies the people in the department were supportive and welcoming. The conducive environment, friendly staff, and ambiance of the department also contributed to my settling in very quickly.
What are you doing now you’ve completed your PhD? Do you have any advice?
So now I am working at one of the public universities in Malaysia and trying my very best to share and transfer useful knowledge that I gained from the University of Sheffield to my current students. At the very least, but not least, for new postgraduate students who are not familiar with the UK higher education system, please communicate this with your supervisor and any teaching facilitators in the department. And if necessary, get some help to familiarise yourself with the system in order to avoid any misunderstandings or miscommunications with your supervisors. It is too risky to make assumptions based on unknown information. All the best!
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