Melisa Mohd Salleh at her convocation at Palacky University in Olomouc, the Czech Republic recently.

SIX long years of perseverance paid off for 25-year-old medical student Melisa Mohd Salleh when she graduated as the top student at Palacky University in Olomouc, the Czech Republic.

Melisa is the fifth Malaysian student to win the top student award since the first batch of medical students graduated there in 2012.

Malaysian students who studied at the university are mostly sponsored by the Public Service Department (JPA) and Mara. The first batch went in 2006 and the last batch will graduate in 2018.

The medical graduate from Ulu Tiram, Johor, came out tops from a class of 27 students from Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, India, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Through an email interview, she said the six years had presented all kinds of challenges, not least the language, as she adapted to life as a student there.

“I feel all my hard work and sleepless nights have paid off,” said the JPA scholar, who flew back yesterday to be with her parents who could not make it to her graduation.

“During the first two years, it was a matter of adapting to life there, especially with the language.

“Most Czechs do not speak English, so we need to communicate with them in their mother tongue, especially when buying groceries and when taking patients’ history.

“The beginning of study was really hard, too. We had to learn anatomy as well as Latin. From the third year to sixth year, the challenges came mostly from the study subjects themselves and the never-ending exams.

“During the final year, we had four main state exams: surgery, internal medicine, obstetric and gynaecology and social medicine.

“The examiners were our top professors and doctors, not just one but sometimes can reach up to 10 persons during one exam.”

Medical students at the university had to take Czech classes for three years to improve their language.

Melissa attributed her success to her parents and also to her close knit circle of friends.

“There were not many of us studying in Olomouc, so we became very close. We studied together and made a promise that we should graduate together.

“Personally, I have always wanted to do the best in whatever I do,” said Melisa, who is interested in working in acute medicine and emergency, and will now wait for the interview for her housemanship.