Masters, International Political Economy

Tracy Yip Chooi Pin, 5Sc1 2002

Tracy started out in the science stream at AMC. Her first exposure to the social sciences was through Chinese debate in school. However, due to conventional myths (science has more promising prospects / good results must do science / easier to switch from science to arts) she stayed in science up till STPM. Her passion for social justice was rekindled during a short internship at NanYang press after STPM.

This drove her to pursue International Affairs Management at UUM even though some friends, family members and teachers were skeptical. She is currently in her last semester of a Masters Program at NTU, fully sponsored by a Singapore GLC without bond or  requirement to repay.

If she could describe her journey in one sentence:  山不转路转, 路不转人转,人不转心转!

 

Hello Tracy, can you tell us about what you did after F5?

Like many of you, I was unsure of what I wanted to do after F5. Thus I defaulted to F6 Bio because I didn’t like physics. My parents were keen on me pursuing conventional professions like doctor/ pharmacist/lawyer/engineering etc., but I was fortunate that they did not push their opinions on me.

How did you use your time during F6 to find out more about yourself?

After STPM, while waiting for results, I interned (FOC) at the NanYang press. There, I discovered a whole new world. During my tenure as a trainee reporter, I got to cover all sorts of news, ranging from social issues (suicides attempt, accidents etc.) to politics and special topics like cord blood banking and arts. Although my job scope was rather basic (translations, interviews, photographing), the experience at this job lit a spark in me.

What happened next? Where did that spark take you?

I could have continued in the science stream at university, but driven by my new found interest, I wanted to do law. You see, my NanYang press experience taught me that social justice is impossible to pursue without understanding the law. Ironically though, I did not want to become a lawyer. In addition, as my brother was bound for a private college, my parents were already financially burdened. Thus, I made a decision to take up ‘International Affairs Management’ when I was offered the course in UUM.

Is UUM the “ulu” university in Kedah?

Yes, UUM is the ‘Jungle University’ located in Jitra Kedah. The best way to explain the “ulu-ness” of UUM is by thinking about fast food… UUM is 45 minutes bus-ride away from the nearest KFC/Pizza Hut. As for McDonalds, the direct bus will get you there in 90 minutes, BUT if you’re the unlucky one who boards a town bus that stops everywhere, your journey for McNuggets will take you 2 Happy Hours! (I’ve heard that public transport has improved over the years though) :)

How did your family and friends react to your decision to do International Affairs Management at UUM?

Many people questioned my decision and doubted if the Jungle University had anything good to offer. I too, was unsure. I went expecting to have to self-study everything; I did not expect good lecturers to exist in the Jungle…haha! But I was wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UUM and met many quality teaching staff who guided me, explaining my options.

Did you get opportunities to intern during university?

Yes I did! I was one of the first student interns with the US Embassy in Malaysia under the Public Affairs division. I was also fortunate enough to complete an internship program with the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations, under the Training Division which conducts diplomatic training courses to local and foreign diplomats.*

Tell us about life after graduation. How did you end up pursuing a Masters Degree?

After graduation, I was offered a PhD course at UUM. But I declined the offer for two reasons; (1) my interests were still too vast, (2) I had a family financial issue. I decided to work for a while to gain more experience (build my resume) and to give me time to decide what postgraduate course I wanted to specialize in.  I ended up in a LED lighting company working as a Customer Support Executive.

A lighting company?!?

Yes… I had no choice because I had to earn money. But I didn’t give up. While working, I sent in my application to the Foreign Ministry’s recruitment call via ‘Walk-In Interview”* I was called for the interview and a short essay writing test. After 3 months, I accepted a contractual PTD (Administrative and Diplomatic Officer) offer to join the Foreign Ministry of Malaysia. There, I worked as a budget officer and learnt a great deal about public finance spending. The more I worked, the more my interest for International Political Economy (IPE) grew.

Today, I’m studying International Political Economy in NTU, fully sponsored by a Singapore GLC, without bond or requirement to repay.

Tracy, your journey is truly a unique and inspiring one… sort of like a “path less taken”. Do you have any words of advise for young AMCians?

Looking back I think I learnt 3 big things.

(1) Don’t restrain yourself from reaching out, possibilities are endless! Think out of the box, don’t be constrained by conventional beliefs! Get to know more people, talk to them for more exposure!

(2) It doesn’t matter if you don’t score well, you may excel in other fields! Science or Arts are merely classifications, they are just different fields of study! Neither is less or more important than the other. A society needs BOTH to be civil. Look at Novel Prize winners, they come from different fields!

(3) Develop positive mindset: If there’s a will, there’s a way! 山不转路转, 路不转人转,人不转心转!

That’s awesome. Thanks so much for sharing your journey.

It was my pleasure. Good luck to everyone!

Tracy can be contacted at…

*If you intend to become a permanent government servant and climb up the ladder of management, it is strongly recommended that you apply through SPA which is the standard procedure.

 

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