IP Student Profile: Grace Lim

by Nick Godfrey

This student profile is part of a series on the students who attend Pembroke’s vacation programmes.

Until a few years ago the eight-week Pembroke-King’s Programme (PKP) was aimed at undergraduate students attending US universities, with students for the most part coming from the University of California, Brigham Young University and the Ivy League universities.  Since 2010 however a growing number of students have come from universities around world, including institutions in China, the Middle East and Europe. When Grace Lim attended PKP in the summer of 2011 she was among the first cohort of students from the University of Malaya and this is what she had to say about the impact of PKP on her life.

Grace Lim2“Studying abroad in Cambridge was something I had never thought possible. Thus, when I found out about the PKP programme, I jumped at the chance to spend a summer studying in Cambridge and was delighted to be one of the 2011 PKP scholarship winners. Little did I know that it was only the beginning of my Cambridge journey. Inspired by the eagerness and hunger for knowledge I found everywhere I turned, I began dreaming of doing my PhD in Cambridge after spending a few weeks in the beautiful city. It was during the PKP programme that I managed to make contact with my potential, now current, supervisor in my faculty with help from PKP coordinators. Two years on in 2013, I am blessed to be a PhD student in the faculty of education as a recipient of the Tunku Abdul Rahman scholarship that covers all costs for the three years of my PhD studies.

“My PhD focus is on the teaching of literature at post-16 level in Malaysia which is a topic few have written on but with the guidance from my supervisor and a supportive group of friends, I am more than ready to face the challenges that have and will come. I wish to look at how the subject has developed in Malaysia since 1957 and to see how these changes reflect Malaysia’s educational policies and aim. More importantly, I want to look at how it is currently taught in Malaysian schools through an exploration of teacher and student classroom experiences. As the subject is on the brink of being struck off the list of subjects offered at post-16 level in Malaysia with only 84 students out of more than 50 000 students registered to take the subject this year, it is vital that research be done now before it is too late. Through this thesis, I hope to demystify the subject and debunk popular beliefs about the subject being difficult and irrelevant to Malaysia in general. My final wish is that literature continues to be a subject offered at post-16 in Malaysia which is a desire that has and will continue to drive my academic pursuits. I am certainly passionate about my research topic and am grateful that I receive tremendous support academically, emotionally and spiritually from those around me.

“What struck me most thus far is the realisation that pursuing a PhD in Cambridge is more than just focusing on my thesis and getting it done. It is about being equipped with skills needed to be a future contributor to my field of study, a role which I look forward to. Studying in Cambridge also turned out to be a double blessing as I discovered during my research that Cambridge Assessment had been the administering body for post-16 examinations in Malaysia during its early years of independence. Physically being in Cambridge has allowed me more access to knowledge than I had realised. Looking back to the first time I stepped foot in Cambridge as a PKP student, I am humbled to realise that my journey thus far began with the courage to dream of being a Cambridge scholar and, to use a cliché, dreams do come true.”