MY SCHOOLDAYS: 'Get married, start a family and become a doctor'.YAQIN CHING ABDULLAH
PROFESSOR Dr Muhaya Mohamad, 52, holds teachers in high regard. Her father, army leftenant Mohamad Busu, instilled into young Muhaya a respect for them -- she was to visit her former teachers, whether in her home state of Trengganu or in Johor where she attended boarding school from remove class until Form Six.
Life in her formative years was disciplined. Her father stressed the importance of education and Islam in their lives. His five children (including an adopted child) were to have their evening bath by 6pm. He picked the movies they watched and TV and radio were only allowed for academic and Science programmes.
While Dr Muhaya felt envious of her cousins, who lived together with her family and had more freedom in their choice of leisure activities, she valued his vision. In 1966, her far-sighted father hired a tutor to teach his children English and Mathematics at RM15 per month at home.
And the doctor should know the distinction between "sight" and "vision". "You may have failing sight and yet have great vision," says Dr Muhaya, who is a consultant ophthalmologist and head of the department of ophthalmology at Prince Court Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur.
The former Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) graduate was the first recipient of the Toh Puan Rahah Award for the most outstanding female student -- both in academic work and personality -- at the institution in 1982. When she graduated with a medical degree in 1985, she won the Book Prize in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
She obtained a Fellowship in Uveitis at the renowned Moorfields Eye Hospital in the United Kingdom after four years of study from 1994 to 1998 and has a doctorate in ocular immunology from the University of London.
Dr Muhaya may have a string of letters after her name, which makes you breathless, but the eye surgeon likes to teach.
And as it has been said that you must first master a subject to impart knowledge, teaching her juniors has in turn bolstered her sterling career -- she received the Excellent Lecturer Award at UKM in 1999 and 2000. But to Dr Muhaya, teaching is only one side of the coin. The other is motivating students. She takes an active interest in Personal and Professional Development and is director of the subject at Allianze University College of Medical Sciences, Penang.
She is author of How to Become a Good and Successful Medical Student -- A Holistic Approach, which is written in question-and- answer format and published in 2005, and hosted Vitamins For The Mind on TV2. She has her own motivation programme Dari Mata Ke Hati on Astro Oasis (Tuedays at 3.30pm). She answers questions on her schooldays:
Which primary and secondary schools did you attend?
SK Tengku Ampuan Mariam in Kuala Trengganu and Sekolah Tun Fatimah in Johor Baru.
Did you have a favourite teacher and why did you like him/her?
My Additional Mathematics teacher, Mr Thiang. I will give him a free eye operation as I am greatly indebted to him for his kindness and dedication as a teacher.
I also owe a lot to Zaharah Ali, the headmistress of SK Tengku Ampuan Mariam. She gave me extra coaching to help me get good results in the Standard Six exam which helped me to gain a place at the boarding school in Johor.
And English language teacher and counsellor Cikgu Rohana proved to be a great emotional support.
What subject(s) did you like at school?
Chemistry. I did extra homework on the subject for Mrs Mak to correct. I have an idea -- at the back of my mind -- to teach students to balance Chemistry equations on YouTube.
Were you rewarded for good performance by your parents? If yes, in what way.
My father was not keen on toys. He gave me a Tissot watch, with changeable coloured straps and rings round the bezel, which was all the rage then. Because he was so inclined, I remember being thrilled with an umbrella -- not a toy.
Father liked gifts with a meaning. He gave Standard Chartered Bank coin boxes made of copper to his children. I had one shaped like a house at the age of seven as he wanted me to be an architect. My sister received one of a book because father hoped she will become a doctor. For a potential engineer, my brother had one shaped liked a dredge. Somehow, I became the doctor. My father wanted all of us to become professionals.
What was your best (and worst) school holiday?
The family spent holidays and Hari Raya in Singapore, my mother's birthplace. I relished those holidays because I could watch TV in Singapore! Floods didn't deter us from going to the island!
The worst holidays were when I stayed back in boarding school during Hari Raya as the LCE (Lower Certificate of Examination, now Penilaian Menengah Rendah) was looming.
What hobbies did you have while at school?
I have a natural talent for dance -- both traditional and modern. The late actor Ahmad Nisfu, who was a family friend, came over with a radiogram. I performed the inang dance spontaneously when music was played! I also don't get stage fright. I choreographed dances at school, took part in fashion shows and was president of the school choir. I was beauty queen of the school in Form One!
What was your ambition while schooling?
When my Form Two teacher asked the class about their ambitions, I listed mine as "get married, start a family and become a doctor".
I went on to fulfil my dreams in that order. Father championed my goals.
When I was in boarding school and he was posted to Kuching, Sarawak every letter which he wrote to me had motivational words at the top.
If you were to live your schooldays all over again, is there anything you would like to change?
No, even though I wasn't top of the class in Forms One and Two!
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