Sachdave Singh is all packed and ready to go, his flight leaves tomorrow evening and his mounting excitement is palpable. Notice was short – barely two weeks ago, it was just another regular day out with his family when that fateful phone call came in, informing him of his successful scholarship application.
“At first I wasn’t sure how to react because I really didn’t expect to get the scholarship. I told my parents and grandparents and the next thing I knew, we were hugging each other and there was laughter all around. It was a very happy moment,” he recalls during a recent interview at Menara Gamuda in Petaling Jaya.
Sachdave, 20, is one of the 33 Gamuda scholarship recipients this year. The youngest of three children in the family, he will be pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley.
It had always been a dream of his to make an impact in the world, and it dawned on him during his teenage years that he could make this a reality through engineering.
“I chose mechanical engineering because it aligns with my interests in physics and mathematics. If not for the scholarship, it would be impossible for me to further my studies overseas because of the cost involved,” he confides.
His father, Sadu Singh, 66, says, “I only want the best for my children. Sachdave is a hardworking boy, however, since I have retired, I am not able to fully support his educational needs. My only wish is for him to excel in his studies and return to serve the nation.”
Since 1996, over 370 scholarships valued at RM38.8mil have been awarded to students. The Gamuda scholarship serves not just to build talent, but to bring more Malaysians up the value chain as they join Gamuda to work on public infrastructure and property development projects.
“At Gamuda, we believe that education is the most basic asset for sustainable development for a corporation as well as for the nation. We strive to build not just a future pool of talent but also leaders of tomorrow. Therefore, education will always be a big part of the company’s sustainability cause,” says Gamuda Berhad chairman Datuk Mohammed Hussein.
The Gamuda scholarship supplements the group’s nation-building effort and talent-building capacity for the future.
This year, over 1,600 scholarship applications were received, with a shortlisted total of 33 awardees.
Mohammed explains that what made the successful candidates stand out is clarity of what they want to do in life and the willingness to work for it and further develop their skills.
“Academic excellence is a given of course, but all the scholarship recipients go beyond that,” he stresses.
Despite being primarily a construction group, Gamuda has supported a range of 30 courses, including business and accounting studies.
“These types of expertise are equally important to support our business and Malaysia’s progress,” he explains.
Accounting student Muhammad Mahfuz Fakhri, 21, can attest to this, sharing that he was pleasantly surprised to be awarded the scholarship.
His mother, Siti Sarengah Mahmud, 53, is the sole breadwinner of the family since his father stopped working due to his health condition, so it has always been a challenge for the family to make ends meet.
“My family is not rich,” says Muhammad Mahfuz, “so it has always been a struggle financially. The scholarship will help me pay my tuition fees and cover living expenses.”
The International Islamic University Malaysia student is determined to learn the ins and outs of the financial world and apply it to everyday life.
“I see people around me stuck in a rat race managing their debt. I want to break free of this cycle,” he says.
Likewise, Sarah Ng, 20, is looking forward to starting her chosen course of study in petroleum geoscience at Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Perak, next month.
The Gamuda scholarship was not the only offer she received, but she decided to take it up because it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“I was initially conflicted because taking up this scholarship would mean leaving everything behind in Kuala Lumpur. But then I realised that when such a great opportunity is given to me, I shouldn’t think twice about it,” she says.
Well aware that petroleum geoscience is not exactly the most popular course around, Ng constantly wonders where she would fit in career wise, if she were to pursue this course.
“But it has always been what I wanted to study, and the Gamuda scholarship offers the promise of career development if I pursue my dream of studying this course,” she says.
Her mother, Lian Kah Feah, 54, has been raising Sarah and her two brothers single-handedly since the passing of her husband a decade ago.
“It was tough to manage the family after my husband’s death. Our BR1M application was successful but there is only so much we can do with that allowance.
“I had to take on several part-time jobs, as a telemarketer, kindergarten assistant and machine operator over the last 10 years to support the family – and still had to pinch from here and there,” Lian says.
She praises Sarah for being meticulous, industrious and having her priorities straight.
“We have a very tight mother-daughter bond and I believe that the path she chooses will do her good,” she adds.
No doubt, these three scholars are raring to make their mark on the world.
Perhaps Sachdave says it best: “As a recipient of the Gamuda scholarship, I am grateful to be given this opportunity to contribute to society. After completing my studies, I look forward to being part of projects at Gamuda that will benefit the community and the country as a whole.”
Indeed, when it comes to building the future, Gamuda sets its sights far and wide.
And for these three young people, as with the other Gamuda scholars this year, their journey has only just begun.