After quitting school to support family, Penang woman heads back to university while working

Not every student gets the opportunity to pursue a tertiary education full-time. What happens then?  — AFP pic
Not every student gets the opportunity to pursue a tertiary education full-time. What happens then? — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — Life was tough for human resources officer M. Preetha during her growing up years.

Being the eldest child to a single parent, Preetha needed to be both a mother and older sister to her younger brother.

Sometimes, the family had to go without food because Preetha’s mother did not have enough money.

“We were normally left alone at home and I needed to look after my brother when my mother was away at work,” said the now 23-year-old, who spent her formative years in Juru, Penang.

“Sometimes we needed to skip meals as my mother’s take-home pay is just not enough to cover our daily expenses.”

When Preetha was 14, the family moved to Seberang Jaya so that her mother could be nearer to her new workplace, which was a petrol station.

“From then, I walked to school daily. Rain or shine, I will walk one kilometre to and from school,” she said.

To assist her mother financially, Preetha started working at the age of 16 during school holidays.

Despite obtaining good results for her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, Preetha decided not to continue her studies to Form Six.

“I wanted to experience college life and that is where I applied to study, in a polytechnic.”

“However, I was offered courses that were not to my liking and decided to work and secure some savings.”

After working for two years, Preetha re-applied to enter a polytechnic.

This time, she was offered a diploma in corporate administration.

Luckily for Preetha, she managed to obtain the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan to help her over her two-year course.

“But I still worked during semester breaks,” she added.

After graduating with a diploma in corporate administration last year, Preetha started working with a manufacturing company at Bandar Perda in Penang.

“But I wanted to improve myself further. In today’s working environment, having just a diploma is not enough.

“I wanted to provide a better life for my mother. That is where I started scouting for a degree course that could help me achieve my goals.”

She managed to find a course offered by INTI International University & Colleges for working professionals.

Preetha said her course, the Bachelor of Business (Hons) Human Resource Management — Learning Simplified degree majoring in human resource management, was conducted online and it gave her the convenience to continue working.

“I can study after working hours and in my home without having to rush for lectures and tutorials,” she said, adding that she spent about one hour daily to study.

Although the course that Preetha signed up for allows her to pay with PTPTN loans, she is paying for it with her own money as it is affordable.

Looking back, Preetha said her tough upbringing led her to vow to study hard as education was the key out of poverty.

“And I am on my way to a better life now,” said Preetha, whose mother has since retired.

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