Zalina Abdullah, 48
Bachelor of Education (Education Administration), 2011
Master of Counselling, 2015
Currently pursuing PhD (Arts)

This two-time OUM graduate (and current PhD candidate) proves there is no mountain too high when it comes to achieving her dreams.

“My life hasn’t been easy. When I was a baby, I contracted polio, which caused one of my legs to be weak and deformed. At school, other students made fun of me because I looked different. As for my family, my mother struggled to support my five siblings and me on her salary while we were growing up.

None of these things dampened my spirits. Neither my physical imperfection nor my family’s poverty defined me. In fact, what others saw as my disability inspired me to study. I did not grow up with much, so I saw education as the key to a better future.

Armed with an STPM certificate, I managed to enrol in the Bachelor of Education (Education Administration) programme at OUM. This was almost 13 years ago, before OUM set up its many learning centres.

Attending tutorials was tough because I had to use the stairs to get to the third floor of the rented building in Shah Alam. I remember feeling so grateful when OUM staff arranged for my tutorials to be held only on the ground floor.

After graduating in 2011, I took up the Master of Counselling programme, which helped me to clinch a job as a counsellor at Persatuan Pengasih Malaysia. Through my job, I help others deal with their challenges.

Then in 2015, I enrolled in the PhD (Arts) programme. Today, I am still a counsellor, and also a part-time lecturer and motivational speaker. Honestly, I never imagined my life would be like this, I owe my success to my love of learning. I tell myself that as long as there are opportunities for learning, I’m going to grab them!

Life will always be filled with obstacles, especially for people with disabilities. Nevertheless, I see no point in feeling sorry for myself. Instead, I hope my achievements will inspire my five children to engage in lifelong learning too.”

Read more about Zalina and our outstanding alumni in the first issue of Contact – The Alumni Magazine at http://alumnimag.oum.edu.my