My Journey

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Assalamualaikum.
To the woman who has done nothing wrong but push me to be the best.

I am Dandarawi Haleemah Bte Abdul Ghani. And I am going to share with my journey with you
I did my N level (Normal Tech) and succeeded in gaining entry to ITE Ang Mo Kio

Back in 2000 when I first enroll into ITE, I was given a range of choices of courses.
I wanted to take Building and Drafting but mum was not keen as it a job more for a man than woman.

At that time, it was IT season, so everything was Information Technology, Computer Programming etc and after having a family discussion around the dining table, and going through every course, my mum decided for me. She decided that I take Electronic – Computer Technology.

At that point in time, I just followed but still keeping in my mind that “someday I will take Architecture up”

2 years pass and I attained NTC-2 Electronics-Computer Technology. Searching for job was hard so I took odd jobs such as waiting tables and servers in hotel during events. But this lifestyle has its ups and downs so much so that I do not meet my family and I was having fun but mum was not having it anymore. She went out of her ways and look for jobs for me.

Then come 1 day in the newspaper advertisement that said an institution is recruiting nurses even without science background.
I used to have an aunty who was a nurse and I did briefly say that I want to do nursing but I have no science. So my mum took this opportunity and signs my name up. She was the one who email the institution and even replying them for me. A competency test date was set and I went along not putting any high hopes.

The institution calls up to confirm my place. In August 2002, I start my training as a Dental Surgery Assistant with National Dental Centre in which it collaborated with RMIT.
After a year of training, I attained the Certificate 3 in Dental Assisting. I work since then. Working in various departments such as Orthodontics (braces), Prosthodontics (dentures, crown and bridges), Pedodontics (babies with cleft palate deficiencies), Periodontics (gums), Endodontic (root canal) and Oral Maxillo Facial Surgery (wisdom tooth and cancer patients.). I was also involved in teaching the junior nurses on assisting the dentist in a proper manner.

In 2004, I took my N level (normal Academic) and I passed. And I carried on taking O level and I failed. I failed twice. Also I secretly applied using my NTC-2 Cert for ITC Architecture in ITE Tampines. And I got it. I told my mum about it and she said no.

Back to Nursing then…I was not moving up the rank fast enough and I got bored and tired. I resign from the institution in 2010.
I took an admin job on 1 year contract basis just to be away from the norm of daily hustling of locating patients’ folders and cases. It was nice at first but after 9 months, it starts to get mundane.
I went on to take Mass Communication in MDIS part time. I did both Diploma and Advance Diploma.
I had no luck in securing a job in the media industry. So I went back to nursing as an old colleague recommended me to the clinic. I work there for 2 years and it was the same day in day out.
I told myself “this cannot be… I am not design as a robot. There must be something”

I went into depression as I can’t find work for 6 months, sitting at home sending numerous resumes.
Finally I got a job as data entry in AON. While I did my job entering data from the insurance forms, it reminded me on nursing days as patients come to me to get the medial insurance forms filled. And now I know what goes on after that.
During this time, everyone in office is talking about their children having major exams and where each are going to further their studies.

And it was at this point that I look into ITE portal and “playfully” looked for building and drafting. But in the ITE prospectus it has now change to Space Design – Architecture. Why ITE? Because the teachers are not only teachers, these teachers have been in the industry before and they know better.
I applied using my NTC-2 and thinking it was an old cert I will not get in. But in God’s will, I received a confirmation email stating that I have successfully secured a seat in the Design School. And I need to go for a competency test. An old doctor called me up stating that she needs a qualified nurse for her clinic on a part time basis. My pieces of puzzles fitting each other well.
My work on my weekends will be used to finance my school period.

The next test is informing my parents’ esp. MUM. With a firm stand, I told everyone around the dining table that I am going back to school. And I am taking architecture. Her reply was “THAT COURSE AGAIN”. And she even rope in my dad in her protest. To which my father reply “Well I did go back to school at the age of 45” she fell into silence.
Color flush away from mum’s face. Mum being mum….. She lists all the questions of money, school period, age and not forgetting marriage….

Reporting to School
I felt nausea and stress reporting to school on the first day. Like everyone else, I came to the board which holds the name and class, look for it and sat quietly in line. After 30min of getting sorted out, we went to our classroom and the normal ice breaker start. Thank god Ms Vinaya did not stress that we have to tell our age. Well sooner or later they will know….
In the weeks to come, we are given drawing and assignments.
And I was bad at drawings so when break time; I stayed behind to continue on my drawing.

During the 1st term of school, getting to adjust to classmates who are half my age is tiresome because here I am trying to learn there they are trying to be funny…. I told myself that they are just like my siblings and cousins. I got to swallow with a pinch of “vinegar”. It was a matter of time to know each other.

How I study you ask? Well, I listen more and talk less. Just listen and keep a keen ears for sometimes the books don’t give me everything. I need to look through the e-learning website and take the quiz to make me understand. And ask questions if I have the slightest enquiry. I thank god for these teachers who are kind enough in helping me. Come exam week, there are 2 parts to it, practical and theory. For practical, I had to practice more and for theory, I studied well using mind-maps. It did help me a lot. Believe you me, when I did call my teacher at 10pm just to understand 1 drawing and how to get it done.
During this period, our teachers are being well loved. Calls for them come from every direction.

After the results are out, I was happy that I got a distinction. I did not even notice that I have a GPA 4 until my brother pointed in out. And I can still remember I ask why 4 and not 1? He chided me and says that 4 is the best and maximum point to achieve. And with these results I can sense my mum has my back now.

I am also into Archery and I got Gold for the Standard 30 Metre Woman during Inter-ITE Sports Meet held in Queenstown Stadium. Training everyday and every week. Juggling studies and sports was tough. But it was fun.

And with all these achievement, I am in the ACE program. I have to put out to the public that I am not only capable in academic but also in sports and also in Volunteering Service be it locally and overseas. I attended talks by ministers and also CEO of major companies. Topics ranges from youth to worldly matters.

In 2016, during the last 10 days of Ramadan, I did go to Cambodia with 3 other schools from Australia, USA and Canada for volunteering service in a primary and also a vocational school. We were there for 2 weeks. We did water points and concrete walk way.
My hard work was recognized when I receive letter from my GRC stating that I had earned CDC-CCC ITE Scholarship. Not only that, I was on the Directors List for 3 times. I had receive 2 CDC-CCC ITE Scholarship and I also have receive 1 each for EAGLES award for Archery and good behavior award.
During these 2 years, I did suffer from stress and depression, the numerous episodes of migraine attacks due to course works, training and studies. I shared with my mum and her words lifted me up. “I believe in you”.
My mum helps to drive me to and fro for my archery practice and even sometimes reaching her workplace late just to send me to school. I do enjoy these trips with her.
My lesson to you is if you want to do it, do it whole-heartedly and be sincere in everything you do.
Surround yourself with good vibes.
Never argue with your mum.

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