Since it was first established over 25 years ago in 1985, University Brunei Darussalam has come a long way in its efforts to produce highly skilled, highly qualifed individuals, many of whom are now serving the country in capacities that, at one point, were a distant dream.
Decades later following the introduction of new programmes, courses, activities and an increase of population in the thousands from the modest first intake of just 176, the university has become a revolving door for many new faces of various backgrounds, with hundreds of goals achieved as the university continues to grow in providing even more for its students.
Among the many products that UBD has successfully produced comes in the form of the first graduating cohort of students studying under the Institute of Health Science (IHS) after it introduced its Medicine programme in 2004, with two of just over a dozen from the first batch currently serving their nation as a practitioner-in-training under the Ministry of Health after six years of honing their chosen professions.
An interivew with one of the pioneering students recently, Dr. Nur Fardila Ibrahim explains a journey of starting with a vague understanding of medicine, to one that shares an understanding for the passion of constant learning for the betterment of the country's human resource pool, even if it is just one person at a time.
"University Brunei Darussalam has played a significant role when we first started in the programme," she recalled, and the introduction of the course bode well with the 28-year-old's dream of becoming a doctor.
Though many students today have the urge to look beyond the country's borders to further their studies, especially with the government's generosity in providing scholarships to deserving students, Dr. Nur Fardila and her graduating class is the personification that local education within higher institutions is as good as those that are offered overseas.
Following her three-year course in UBD for her Bachelor of Health Science degree, the doctor, who is currently undergoing her vocational training at the government's Ong Sum Ping Clinic, travelled to the United Kingdom to obtain her Bachelor of Medicine with one of three partner universities, namely South Hampton, and despite spending the first leg of her journey here in the country, "I don't feel like I've missed out on much," an indication that any Bruneian can start off their own journeys the same way.
"There isn't any form of disadvantage beginning from UBD, but in fact, it has given me so much more," especially with a course as demanding as medicine.
"Because I spent my crucial first years here in Brunei, I was given the support that I needed from my family and friends, who were there for me when I needed them the most," she said, and such an experience would have been difficult to emulate anywhere else but at home.
"Among the many differences between here and the UK," she explained, "is the fact that there were over 300 students in one class for the course I was taking and it was a little difficult. But here, because there were just a handful of us, we were able to openly ask questions, which was great especially for students who are shier than most, such as myself."
But she has since grown to be a confident young woman, and UBD, she enthused, provided her with the foundation for personal development, which enabled her to adapt to an environment very different from what we here in Brunei tend to experience.
During her five-year stay in the UK, three with Southampton and another two as an intern in Isle of Wight doing rounds in the various health departments for practical training, Dr. Nur Fardila was able to add on to her already extensive portfolio as a health practitioner, including two papers that were published in notable health journals, which earned her recognition among her peers that involved studies into the physiological impact on patients, parents and children who have allergies to peanuts.
Next year, she says, she plans to continue with her Masters in Primary Healthcare under the wings of UBD and the future , she added, "Is to give back to the university and share with my juniors what I've learned just to show how grateful I am for what UBD has done for me over the years."
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