In a time where the world faces unprecedented challenges, a remarkable story emerges from Heriot-Watt University Malaysia (HWUM), where the EmPOWER Awards Ceremony 2023 marked a turning point for 397 students who showcased their exceptional accomplishments. The event, held on Wednesday, 5 April 2023, celebrated the students' completion of their Watt level and Impact Statements, signifying their unwavering dedication to making a difference in the world.
With resilience and determination, these students have not only climbed the ladder of academic success but have also enriched their lives and those around them through transformative experiences. As they reached new heights in their EmPOWER programme, the Kilowatt level achievers were honoured for their unparalleled achievements.
The EmPOWER Community Service Projects, a testament to the students' commitment to positive change, gave birth to the EmPOWER Crowdfunding Project 2023. Launched on 26 January 2023, the project aimed to raise RM100,000 for 12 deserving charitable organisations and NGOs in Malaysia. To date, the students have successfully raised over RM92,805, with their eyes set on the finish line. These were the participating Social Impact Partners this year:
- Mercy Malaysia – MM is an international non-profit organisation that swiftly pivoted its emergency response to provide much-needed aid to flood victims.
- Teach for Malaysia - TFM is a diverse network of leaders committed to ending educational inequity. Had recently launched the Tutoring Programme as an initiative to narrow the learning gap.
- Nicol David Organisation – The Nicol David Organisation was founded by Datuk Nicol David and Mariana de Reyes with the objective to empower girls and boys through sport and education.
- Fugee School - Fugee School is a non-profit supported by the UN's Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to provide refugees children a chance for education opportunities in Kuala Lumpur.
- Malaysian Association for The Blind (MAB) - MAB empower persons with visual impairment by providing them with opportunities for greater participation, involvement and integration into society.
- DiveHeart - To build confidence, independence, and self-esteem in the lives of children and adults with disabilities through scuba diving, scuba therapy and related activities.
- Lang Tengah Turtle Watch - The Lang Tengah Turtle Watch is an NGO to help save sea turtles on the beaches of Lang Tengah – an island off the East Coast of Malaysia, from extinction.
- PAWS Animal Welfare Society – PAWS provides shelter to unwanted dogs and cats which will be vaccinated, dewormed, neutered/spayed, and put up for adoption. Currently, there are over 250 dogs and 250 cats under PAW's care.
- Ti-Ratana Welfare Society Malaysia - Ti-Ratana Welfare Society, a charitable welfare organisation, is a community centre created to improve lives for people from all walks of life.
- Malaysian Mental Health Association - MMHA promotes mental wellbeing in the community and supports people with mental health problems and their caregivers through support, education, training, research, and advocacy.
- Yayasan Chow Kit - YCK is a 24-hour crisis and drop-in centre providing meals, activities, therapy, case management, and educational programmes for at-risk children and teenagers in KL.
- Malaysia Federation of Deaf - Malaysia Federation of Deaf (MFD) is a national organization that provided help and services to Deaf throughout Malaysia.
From Mercy Malaysia's rapid response to aid flood victims to the Nicol David Organisation's commitment to empowering youth through sport and education, these beneficiaries exemplify the power of collective action.
In a moving speech, Professor Mushtak Al-Atabi, Provost and CEO of Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, praised the students' hard work and perseverance, urging all Watt-level achievers to continue reaching for the stars.
Student representatives shared their poignant and inspiring experiences, reflecting on the profound impact of the EmPOWER journey on their personal growth and the communities they served. Omar Abdullah bin Abdul Azeem, a 1st Year Actuarial Science student, highlighted the importance of spreading positivity, adding that "being the person to spread positivity takes a lot. However, as a catalyst to this, to witness the positive outcome from it is fulfilling with pleasure and joy."
Raisa Gan Yu Li, another 1st Year Actuarial Science student, shared her team's support for the deaf community, raising around RM13,000 through crowdfunding and charity activities. She emphasised the invaluable lessons she learned, stating, "Throughout these charity events and activities, I learned that networking, risk-taking, and building connections are crucial as we have so much to offer to one another."
Tay Hong Ying, a 3rd Year Mechanical Civil Engineering student, reflected on her journey, noting that "Life is not a bed of roses" and "Through this journey, I had my realisation to reflect that it is fine not to meet everyone else's standard, and always prioritise yourself."
As a beacon of hope, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia stands out as an institution dedicated to nurturing well-rounded individuals who excel not only in academics but also in leadership and purpose. The EmPOWER Awards Ceremony 2023 is a testament to the indomitable spirit of change-makers, igniting a spark that will undoubtedly light the way for future generations.