By Athira ABD Latiff
GOMBAK, 20 August 2022: “I love IIUM for what it is. The tranquility of the place that would unexpectedly reminded me of Allah’s kindness in many ways,” the award-winning Best Student (Overall), Aina Mardhia Binti Ismail, shared with IIUMToday in an exclusive interview.
The graduate from the Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design (KAED) in the 8th session of the 37th IIUM Convocation (16 August), reminisced her fruitful times in IIUM that enabled her to gain knowledge, skills, resilience, and create lasting memories with her lecturers and fellow batchmates.
Aina pointed out that despite the cruelty of the pandemic that caused impediments to her studies and internship, it was all feasible with the support and prayers of her parents.
“I was mentally and financially stable to survive the pandemic because of my parents. This was the turning point to myself as I thought who am I without them. I owed them a lot and this is one of the reasons that encouraged me to achieve the award,” she expressed.
Notwithstanding the strong support from her parents, Aina also expressed immense gratitude to the Department of Urban Regional Planning (URP) and her final year project Advisor, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Azila Sarkawi for her guidance.
Further recalling her luminous memories at IIUM, Aina expressed that the university helped awaken her spiritual and mental stability beyond the course she studied, which is rarely found elsewhere.
“Compared to now, this overwhelming and exhausting lifestyle takes me away from the balanced Muslim life,” she added when comparing her student and career life.
However, Aina embraced the disparity between the life outside and inside IIUM. She aimed to bring forth the knowledge and skills acquired from the university to benefit the ummah.
She further shared that as the graduate in Urban Regional Planning, she hoped to be a registered Town Planner so that she can respond to issues and give impactful solutions from different lenses (physical and spiritual) in the setting of the built environment.
“I believe, graduating in this field and working as a town planner is a blessing in disguise and opened up an opportunity for good deeds when done right,” she added.
Aina shared that she is currently working with one of the Malaysia’s top consultants that has provided her access to a few important strategically planned documents for the locally built environment scene.
“With concerns of sustainability and resiliency nowadays, I am sure to have more ways to contribute to the betterment of spaces and places,” she added.
Asked for words of motivation or tips as the Best Student (Overall), Aina wished future graduands and her younger self to believe in Allah’s plans, take it easy, and partake in university activities outside of one’s major. ***
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