August 16, 2019, by Lee Mei Kee

Valedictorian Speech: Biomedical Sciences Class of 2019

Noreen Tan giving a valedictorian speech in the graduation ceremony at Great Hall, University of Nottingham Malaysia on 29th July 2019.

Professor Graham Kendall, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Nottingham and Provost and CEO of University of Nottingham Malaysia,

Professor Fon Sim, Ong, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning), University of Nottingham Malaysia,

Professor Deborah Hall, Vice-Provost (Research and Knowledge Exchange), University of Nottingham Malaysia

Esteemed members of the faculty,

Distinguished guests,

Parents, friends and my graduating class of 2019

Good afternoon to all of you!

My name is Noreen and I am beyond honoured to be given the chance to represent the division of Biomedical Sciences, class of 2019. As I look out into the crowd before me, I sense a wave of emotions from everyone present. For family and friends, the sense of pride you have in your graduate’s achievement is unmeasurable. You parents have a sense of joy in knowing that the child whom have raised earned a bachelor’s degree coupled with the knowledge there will be no more tuition payments, that’s really something. Brothers and sisters have gained a whole new level of respect towards for the person who was your best friends growing up or even your worst enemy. But nothing can come close to what we are feeling right now as graduates.

Well, before I get started, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to my parents for their support and love throughout my student years at this university. I am so happy to have you both here with me today witnessing my graduation! Mum and Dad, I love you and I hope that I have made you guys proud.

And while I am at it, I would like to make a shout-out and thank all parents in this hall today. Thank you for working hard for us and thank you for understanding so profoundly that the most precious inheritance from you is our education. Thank you dear parents, you guys are awesome.

To all the lecturers and academic staffs who had prepared us for the outside world, thank you. You have stepped up to be a strict father and a loving mother to each of us while caring for us like a friend yet acting as a disciplinarian who remains approachable. All of you have contributed so much to make us who we are today.

And to be honest, I wasn’t an outstanding student as I have failed five subjects in my first year and I guess I am quite famous among the lecturers because of my “excellent” performances. I felt so down and I started to question myself, thinking about giving up and I remembered at that time I talked to one of my lecturer, Dr Alice, about my concern. She told me that “Just because the past didn’t turn out like you had wanted to, doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you’ve ever imagined” and this quote has inspired and encouraged me to be the best student I could possibly be.

Fellow graduates,

I know that to some extent we generally had a bad and intense relationship with failure. We can see it as an ending, as a proof that we were not good enough. But the truth remains that failure happens to everyone. The only thing that separates people who succeed from those who do not is a proper understanding of the power of failure. You cannot let a fear of failure or a fear of judgment stop from doing the things that will make you great. You simply cannot succeed without the risk of failure. You cannot have a voice without the risk of criticism. You cannot love without the risk of loss. You must take these risks. We all have to remember that success is something which cannot be achieved overnight or just by trying something once.

Besides, there are many people who compare their success to the achievements of others. Let say, if they have a car and others have a bigger car, they may consider themselves as a failure. I realised that, people often forget that each individual in this world is born with both a unique capacity as well as limitations. Also, it is not good to compare yourself to others; rather you should compare your past with the present and set a goal for future, ignoring what others have achieved.

It has only been three years since we sat through Orientation Day. I remember that on that day, graduation seemed so far away and the next three years seemed fresh and new. For those three years as students, I believed that all of us have struggled a lot. Pulling all-nighters completing our lab reports or projects, staying at TCR to figure out how to do the Bioinformatics assignment, forcing ourselves to understand and memorise all the pathways, rushing to the lab for the Bsc and centrifuge mechanism, praying for uncontaminated samples. Cannot remember how many times we wanted to throw in the towel, like “I am done with this degree”, “I cannot, I can’t do this”, but guess what, look at yourself in your robes, sitting in this hall, degree in hand. And I just want to tell you guys that, we all made it man, and we should really proud of ourself!

UNM is much more than just a university that we study in, for most of us, UNM has been our home for the past 3 to 4 years. If you ask me what is special about Nottingham, I would say – Diversity. Campus life is an eye-opener for many students. For many, it is the first taste of freedom and an unfiltered view of the real world. By going to a university that values diversity and multiculturalism in their students, faculty and administrative staff, students are free to express themselves as they see fit. Diversity enriches the educational experience. We, as students learn from people who have different experiences, beliefs and perspectives from our own and these lessons promote personal growth and a healthy society. Also, diversity challenges stereotyped preconceptions; it encourages critical thinking and it helps us to learn how to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds. With all of these benefits, students will be better prepared for a global society, and I think Nottingham did a great job with this.

To my fellow graduates, the past few years have made us more than friends, we are family. We should really come back together once in a while, to celebrate the bond that we have created here as it was truly priceless. Let us commit to defending the image of this great university. We as the graduates and future alumni must influence others to be mentors, and give back to this great centre of excellence by coming back.


Before I end I would like to remind you something, it leaves you as well as myself a reminder. Graduation marks the end of yet another remarkable chapter in our lives. With this chapter closed, I am certain that many of us are already anxious about starting the next one because, unlike a Biology book, we cannot skip through the pages of life to see how long the next chapter is going to be. We all have our own book of life that has not yet been written and every day that passes is another page we write in ourselves. Please give yourself more time. I know that many of us want to have all our dreams come true at once. But trust me, “you can have it all – but not all at once.” Remember that, mindset is everything whether you will make it or break it!

So, the only thing left to say now is congratulations to the class of 2019!  From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all the very best!

Thank you.

Group photo of BMS graduating class of 2019, PhD graduates, and lecturers.


Article by: Noreen Tan Xuan Ying (BMS graduate of 2019)

Posted in BMSHappeningsUncategorized