KUALA KETIL: Financial hardship did not deter 26-year-old Siti Norhafizah Masito from pursuing her dreams and furthering her studies to university level.
Siti, an orphan, spent five years working several jobs before being able to enrol herself for the Diploma in Information Technology course in the Kolej Universiti Insaniah (KUIN) here.
All her hard work paid off when the seventh of 12 siblings graduated with flying colours, with a 3.68 Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) and was presented the Jaizah Imtiyaz award.
"Life was difficult for my family especially after my father died about 11 years ago. He was a lorry driver while my mother was a housewife without any particular qualifications.
"After finishing high school I had no choice but to start working to help support my family.
"When the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results came out, I did not have any savings to pay for college fees or a flight ticket," said Siti, who hails from Kampung Baginda, a small town in Keningau, Sabah.
She said it was only after five years of working that she managed to save enough money to enable her to pay for the first semester's college fees, flight ticket and buy some basic necessities to start her studies.
"The total amount of fees that I need to pay during college registration together with my flight ticket was over RM3,000.
"I managed to secure a National Higher Education Fund Corp (PTPTN) loan but it was only enough to cover for the semester's fees.
"Fortunately, my older sister, Siti Fatmah, sent me some pocket money monthly during my studies here.
"She was the only one we could count on after our father passed away, even after she got married," said Siti.
Siti said her main motivation was the hardship faced by her family.
She strongly believed that education was the key towards enabling her to improve her family’s fortunes, especially her elderly mother’s.
Siti was among 1,134 students from various courses, including diploma, bachelor's degree, master's degree and doctoral degree, who graduated from KUIN this year.
The university college's 17th convocation ceremony which took place at the Dewan Tuanku Permaisuri Hajah Haminah of KUIN's main campus here, beginning today was held in three sessions in two days.