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PETALING JAYA, Nov 11 ― A final year Universiti Malaya medical student has been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford.
Subashan Vadibeler will be heading to the UK in October 2021 for two years where he will be pursuing two master’s degrees, a Master’s of Science in International Health and Tropical Medicine and a Master’s of Science in Integrated Immunology.
“It’s a great feeling ― I called my mum and my sister when I found out,” he said.
During his interview with Rhodes representatives, Subashan was asked a mix of personal questions and questions about his career goals.
“The interview went okay, I had a hunch that maybe I had a chance but there were also eight other finalists.
“I managed to talk to them and they seemed pretty great but it was quite a surprise.”
He found out the wonderful news on Monday morning and said the experience has been “unreal”.
In medical school at UM, Subashan has mostly seen patients with dengue and wants to further study the mosquito-borne disease.
And the 24-year-old from Ipoh told Malay Mail his dream is to eradicate dengue.
“I’m hoping to study the immunology of dengue and in future I hope to eradicate dengue and other neglected tropical diseases and I’m working towards that pathway in my career,” he said.
He acknowledged the support and guidance from his university’s medical faculty, saying this opportunity would not have been possible without their help.
UM medical faculty dean Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman took to Twitter to share the good news yesterday.
I am so over the moon with this news, it’s as if I got the scholarship myself!!— Adeeba Kamarulzaman (@ProfAdeeba) November 10, 2020
Subashan our final year medical student has just been selected as the Rhodes Scholar-elect 2021 Malaysia!!
You have made us all at the Faculty of Medicine, UM extremely proud.@unimalaya @Khazanah_MY
“I realise that other Malaysian students can’t afford the same privileges so they can reach out to me anytime for help,” Subashan said.
Growing up in Ipoh had a profound impact on his passion for infectious diseases.
“My hometown is quite a big inspiration for me because at UM, where I’m currently studying, is where the Nipah virus was discovered and my hometown was one of the earliest places to be infected with the virus.
“That’s what got me interested in infectious disease and microbiology,” Subashan said.
The St Michael’s Institution alumnus said his school also played a big part in his life by inculcating values that have served him well.
“We had no streaming in St Michael’s so it was a very equal school ― I didn’t realise it back then but retrospectively, those values moulded my ideals and goals now,” he said.
The youngest in his family, Subashan’s mum is a teacher who teaches Tamil while his dad is a businessman.
His sister, who is two years his senior, is a water treatment chemist.
Given that Covid-19 has disrupted classroom learning around the globe, Oxford still conducts on-campus teaching and Subashan hopes it stays that way.
“I don’t know how it will be then but I think it will be on campus, I hope it will be on campus.”