Some of you might remember the Radiance21 Scholarship Project that I did as my 21st birthday project back in 2015. It was a collaboration with SkolaFund, a crowfdunding platform for education in Malaysia. I was talking to Aizan a few weeks ago, and he suggested that I do an update / wrap-up post about the project.
After all – I don’t think I’ve written any updates on the blog about it. I have, however, kept the sponsors up to date via occasional email updates. But perhaps it is a good idea to do one final wrap-up / update on the blog, for closure’s sake. It has been more than 3 years since the project started, so that seems like a good time for an update. It would also serve as a way for me to keep myself accountable for the funds that went into this scholarship project, as people might want to know more about how the project ended up.
Looking back on how the Radiance21 Scholarship project started.
I turned 21 on August 23rd, 2015. In the West, turning 21 is a big thing, usually because you can legally drink and stuff. Turning 21 was also a big milestone because in Malaysia, that’s the requirement to be able to vote. So I figured, “Hey, why not make it a big thing for me too?“
Aizan wrote a pretty good background story into the whole project on his Caspershire blog, if you want to give him some love. But long story short, my team and I spent a month fundraising for the Radiance21 Scholarship project, and raised a total of RM5,200 during the campaign. The actual amount was around ~RM5,195 or something (because of the exchange rate from USD to MYR).
Initially, only my mother pledged to match the amount that we were able to raise (as her birthday present to me). But Dad was equally awesome when he said he’d match the amount as well. Dad’s awesome contribution brought up the total amount to a flipping RM15,600.
Thus, the Radiance21 Scholarship was born.
In mid-November 2015, after some technical problems and constant back-and-forth emails between the SkolaFund team and I, the scholarship went live on SkolaFund’s website. That was a huge highlight of my life – my goal of creating a scholarship finally came true!
Around 200 applications were started, but only ~20 or so were fully completed and submitted. Honestly speaking, the number of applications were a little low. I admit, it was a little disheartening and disappointing – I was hoping it would generate more hype and garner more responses. Perhaps it was a mistake on our end, about not marketing it enough or not giving people enough time to apply. Oh well, ~20’s a good number for a small-scale scholarship project, no?
My team (Aizan, Nazran, Ali and I) took our time to review the applications. Shortlisted applicants were invited to a Google Hangout interview session with some of us, just so we can learn more about them. After a thorough assessment and interview, the scholarship was awarded to three students on January 1st, 2016. The three recipients were: Farah Syamila (UniSZA), Amrina Anuar (UKM) and Husni Mubarak (UiTM).
Farah Syamila, our main scholarship recipient, was then awarded a Sime Darby scholarship about a year into her Radiance21 sponsorship (around late 2016). Because of this, we decided to turn her remaining funds (~RM6,200) into another mini-scholarship. This time around, because of Farah, we made the second scholarship specially for students of UniSZA. Farah also joined my team to help us in finding her replacement.
Second time’s the charm.
Our second application cycle saw more than 550 applications started, with almost 100 submitted applications. That was around FIVE TIMES MORE than our first cycle – which is just pure AMAZING! True, it did gave us more work to do since we have to review a lot more applications, but I was ecstatic!
It was a tough selection process, as we’ve had some solid good applications and interviews. The whole thing was also very challenging for us as a team, because we caught some students plagiarising their answers to our questions. Plagiarism is a very serious academic misconduct, and obviously we did not want any scholars who indulge in academic dishonesty. But we also consider the fact that they may not be aware of the seriousness of the issue, and offered them one last chance to resubmit their answers to us.
Despite all the issues, it was a very successful application cycle. The scholarship was then awarded to Ummulwaqiah Maisarah, a Medial Imaging student.
Having to make hard choices all around.
Unfortunately, due to some circumstances, we had to revoke our sponsorship for Husni at the end of last year. It’s probably for his best if I don’t go into too much detail on how and why the scholarship was revoked. It’d suffice to say that some parts of the Radiance21 Scholarship Agreement was broken. Hence, the team and I had to make the hard choices and to be strict with the situation.
It was certainly a decision that was hard to make personally. I believe that every person deserves a chance to prove themselves. Unfortunately, the circumstances did not allow us to make any further accommodations and we had to come down strong.
The extra funds from Husni’s sponsorship were initially planned to be distributed in small RM50-100 sponsorships for various campaigns on SkolaFund. However, since SkolaFund started their Big Community Scholarship Fundraiser a few months ago, I decided to channel the funds there instead, so that they can disburse the money to those in need of funding.
Read more about their updates and stories.
When I thought about this scholarship project, it was to create a ripple effect. I didn’t want to merely provide the money to someone, that’d be way too simple. But I wanted it to develop into something better – something bigger than this project. This is the reason why each scholar is expected to participate in a community service project, just to continue the “giving it back” idea.
I have a separate Tumblr blog dedicated to updates on our Radiance21 scholars, which you can read here. On this blog, I’ve shared updates by our Radiance21 scholars, which included reports on their community service and any other updates (like Amrina’s Erasmus program report), etc. I feel like that would be a good platform to share their stories with people, and gives a sense of accountability as well.
Where are the remaining scholars now?
Currently, only Sarah is still under our sponsorship, and she is now in her fifth semester.
Amrina’s fund of RM4,000 has recently ran out, so her sponsorship with us has ended. Amrina is currently in her final year, about to graduate soon insyaAllah.
Farah has, Alhamdulillah, recently graduated, so congratulations to her! May your future journey be as amazing as you are.
I have reached out the scholars to ask them for their feedback / thoughts about the Radiance21 Scholarship project. You can read snippets of their feedback below, or click the links given to read their full feedback.
What the Radiance21 scholars said…
In conclusion, I am very indebted to Ms Syaza and team, and also to the sponsors. Whoever you are, your kindness is truly appreciated and I pray so that each one of you are given longevity in life with good health, which is filled with happiness and endless blessings. This project is an inspiration for me to initiate something in the future to help those who are in need, just like me today. Thank you so much.Ummulwaqiah Maisarah (full feedback available here)
Coming from a very moderate family. Not that rich or that poor. But as an eldest one, I guess it is a very huge responsibility on my shoulders. The scholarship that I received from Radiance21 reduced some of the burden. The money that I received every semester, I used it for my studyNur Amrina Anuar (full feedback available here)
Being a Radiance21 scholar has helped me to focus on my free time to do something that will add value to my degree, instead of focusing on the financial burden. [….] Thanks to the scholarship I am able to fully utilize my time during my study years through volunteering opportunities and internships, which have been crucial in helping me to strengthen my skills such as communication and interpersonal.Farah Syamila (full feedback available here)
Couldn’t have pulled it off alone.
I cannot thank SkolaFund enough for all their help through this whole project. They’ve been a great team to work with, and I honestly appreciate all their help. Special thanks to Syamil for entertaining all my emails and DMs and everything – you’re amazing!
I also couldn’t have done it without the tremendous support from my parents and the sponsors who donated to the campaign during my birthday. Some of the sponsors even donated RM1,000 to the cause – which is a huge huge huge thing and I’m so thankful for their kindness! Only God can repay them for their kindness and contribution to this project.
Thank you to my husband (the then-boyfriend at that time) for allowing me to do this project. Thank you for the support and for being there to listen to me rant and ramble when I was reviewing all the applications.
Not to forget, thank you to my team for hearing out my ideas and giving me suggestions, comments and inputs. Your support and ideas mean a lot to me. Thank you for spending your time to listen to this weird person.
Last but certainly not least (and I feel compelled to say this because he’d get mad if I don’t), thank you to one of the most obnoxious people I’ve ever met in my life – Aizan. You did good – even though you did had the most f**ked up mishap in the middle of the whole thing.
It’s been good, Alhamdulillah.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with how things turned out. Granted, there are a lot of things that we’ve done that could definitely be improved on. But, for a small project, I think we did a pretty solid job. I’m happy with how it’s been carried out, and at least now I know the areas for improvements, should I ever do anything similar in the future.
Now – to start thinking about what I want to do for my 25th birthday in 2019. I should be done with my dissertation (hopefully!) by August 2019, so I’m thinking of something big but meaningful. Any ideas or suggestions? If yes, do let me know in the comments down below!
Alright then, it’s been a super long post, so I better be off. If you have made it this far, thank you for reading! Until next time, stay awesome!