A Message of Hope and Encouragement
An Interview with Mark

…when the opportunity came for Mark to return to study, it filled him with hope.

Odoo • A picture with a caption
Mark on graduation day, 07 February 2020 (Photo credit: Catherine, sister)

For Mark, a successful recipient of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation Community Scholarship, not being able to go to college or university was a regret that often surfaced in his mind once upon a time. At 21 years old, he was already doing whatever odd jobs that came along for two years, after leaving high school. Yet, when the opportunity came for Mark to return to study, it filled him with hope. In March 2020, I had the honour of interviewing Mark over the telephone amidst the fervour of his recent graduation from Sunway University with a First Class Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science.

Mark, a Kadazan and the eldest of three children, moved with his family to Kuala Lumpur from Lahad Datu when he was three years old. At aged 6, sadly, his father passed away and his mother Maria worked hard to provide for the family. Maria is currently a pre-school teacher. Mark grew up in government co-ed schools.

At one point, Mark recalled how tense and nervous he was when he was accepted by Sunway College to study for a Diploma in Information Technology on full scholarship. Noting that going to another reality would mean experiencing a set of new challenges, Mark, however, took them in stride, especially his first college year. A lesson he learnt was that when the cards dealt for problem-solving, take the opportunity to improve one’s problem-solving skill. Mark was also determined not to disappoint the people who encouraged him. From memory, Mark quoted Maria’s church friend and one Danny Kumar from a local home who passed on news about the JCF Community Scholarship and had him connected to Malaysian CARE where Keith Gonsalvez, then CARE’s coordinator in Communications, offered to help Mark with his application.

Scoring distinction in IT Diploma earned Mark credits to shorten time for his Computer Science degree. He offered a series of suggestions to new scholar recipients. “Do your best and not focus on just results. Put your mind to the task, come up with solutions. Do not expect to be spoon fed. Help others.” Then in a jovial tone, Mark added, “Remember to have fun! It is not just about studies. Make friends.”

Mark believes that obstacles can be used as stepping stones. His student experience of leading group work and resolving group work issues taught him the value of being someone others can rely on and having a committed team. Mark was thankful for conscientious members who not only made him feel less isolated but together, the team achieved better results. Ï still keep in touch with them,” he remarked.

And Mark’s last words were near and dear to his heart. He heaped praise on his mother for teaching him well. “Without her, I will be no one. She teaches me to be grateful to God and family.” 

For Mark, his was a story of a slow-burning regret quenched, a hope delivered. Well done, Mark! God be with you. 

For interest in Jeffrey Cheah Foundation Community Scholarship, please visit 

 by Susan Wong
Susan leads the Communications department. She enjoys a good biography and documentary. She hopes to have a dog again someday.