MSc in Public Health alumnus (2015), Dr Yoong Sao Chin has won the national level 2018 British Council Alumni Award for Social Impact in Malaysia.
The British Council Alumni Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of alumni and showcase the impact and value of a UK higher education. Award winners and finalists are leaders in their fields who have used their experience of studying at a UK university to make a positive contribution to their communities, professions and countries. The awards are announced at regional, national and global level between February and May.
Dr Yoong decided to study an MSc in Public Health on the recommendation of friends and the reputation that the School has as being one of the top institutions in Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Dr Yoong said “I was impressed with the modules offered and the flexibility in the choice of courses to obtain the Masters. Since I was involved with disasters in under-developed countries the study of tropical diseases in a global perspective caught my undivided attention. One could sense that you need to master a diverse range of subjects to earn your place in the graduation hall.”
During his time at the School Dr Yoong found the lecturers to be helpful and frank in their assessment of students’ work. “Honestly sometimes their remarks stung but they were never destructive. It brought out the best in me that I never knew existed.” He was able to build lasting relationships with his classmates on the projects module and he occasionally corresponds with his supervisor Dr James Rudge to this day.
The most valuable lesson that Dr Yoong learnt from studying at the School was to critically appraise every article that he read. “Never be intimidated by the reputation of the researchers and to hold ones conviction unwaveringly. Recently I clearly recall expressing my views of the effectiveness a new vaccine being offered, which conflicted with the views of the audience. This boldness was definitely borne out of my training at the School that one’s conviction based on sound scientific facts must be defended.”
Dr Yoong told us that it was a marvellous experience winning the British Council Award for Social Impact in Malaysia, an event that was featured in the Star Online in Malaysia. “With so many worthy alumni from top universities in UK and a couple of Chevening scholars one could not but feel intimidated by the amount of achievements from such a small audience assembled at the residence of the British High Commission.” “I was extremely honoured when my name and the institution that was responsible for my success was called to receive the award. I believe it is the beginning of better things ahead.”
Dr Yoong is currently the Director of Crisis Relief Services & Training in Malaysia, a registered NGO dedicated to disaster relief. He hopes to train more young volunteers for humanitarian work in disaster areas. “The conditions might be harsh and calling at short notice, but the rewards are enormous if one persists.”
Dr Yoong had some closing words for current students: “The pursuit of knowledge is a never ending path and Hippocrates is right that life is short but the art is long. Once you have set our mind on one matter, get it done and never give up. Follow your heart’s instincts just to do good and do it well. Do not think of future recognition or acknowledgements for efforts made, they might never come. Always be content with family and work. Striking a balance is of utmost importance.”
Congratulations Dr Yoong on your award!