1. Janushaa Bala Krishnan Muthiah, the first Malaysian woman to enter a top US military academy
Not only did Janushaa become one of the 15 students selected from around the world to attend the prestigious US Naval Academy, she is the first and only Malaysian woman to make it into the list!
The 19 year-old engineering student was selected based on her academic performance, fitness level, as well as leadership qualities. She'll be studying aerospace engineering at the Academy, and then start her training as a fighter jet pilot after she has earned her degree.
Speaking at an interview, Janushaa said that she hopes to be a professional pilot one day “to prove that gender is not a barrier to achieve our dreams".
2. Mohd Samsul Mohd Said, winner of this year's Sony World Photography Awards
Samsul is a freelance photographer who specialises in international news. He was recently awarded First Place for his photography series in the Professional - Current Affairs and News category.
Titled 'Life Inside the Refugee Camp', Samsul's submission includes eight black-and-white photos taken at the Balukhali Camp in Bangladesh. The camp houses hundreds of Rohingya refugees who have fled their homes to escape from the violence happening in Rakhine, Myanmar.
"They are human beings just like us, who dream of a perfect life," Samsul said. He hopes that his photography series can raise awareness about the Rohingya situation, and encourage people to help them.
3. Jeffrey Webb, one of the first Malaysians to qualify for the Winter Olympics
Skier Jeffrey became the first Malaysian to qualify for alpine skiiing in the 2018 Winter Olympics, which was held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. He competed in the men's giant slalom category in alpine skiing on 18 February this year.
But the Winter Olympics wasn't Jeffrey's first international tournament - the 20 year-old previously competed in the 2017 Asian Winter Games, and was the first Malaysian to ever participate in competitive alpine skiing.
Jeffrey said in an interview with The Star that it has always been his dream to represent Malaysia at the Olympics, "I’m passionate about this sport and nothing brings me joy than to keep the Malaysian flag flying high."
4. Siva Nagappan Visvesvaran, recipient of the 2018 Queens Young Leaders Award
Siva is the co-founder of Project Paplet, an initiative that reuses and recycles used paper to benefit NGOs and orphanages. The team turns one-sided printed papers into booklets, which are donated to more than 50 refugee schools through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. He's one of the two Malaysians chosen to receive the Queens Young Leaders Award this year.
The electrical power engineering student has also created many innovations to help people recycle, including the Linear Water Storage system that helps to store rainwater more efficiently.
When asked about how he feels about winning this prestigious award, Siva said, “It’s such an honour to be chosen and be part of a community of young people who are making a huge difference in their communities. I can’t wait to learn from them all.”
5. Chia Wen Shin, recipient of the 2018 Queens Young Leaders Award
26 year-old entrepreneur Wen Shin found a way to make recycling a sustainable business by founding Green Yards, an initiative that turns used cooking oil into eco soaps and candles.
Wen Shin created Green Yards to help reduce water pollution in Malaysia. She and her team members would go out to collect used cooking oil from homes and restaurants. For every 5kg of used cooking oil recycled, Green Yards would give these donors a free soap bar as a token of appreciation.
"I hope that everyone can start taking small steps towards helping the environment because only together we can create a greater impact," Wen Shin said. As a recipient of the Queens Young Leaders Award, she'll get the chance to participate in a year-long leadership course run by the University of Cambridge to help her develop as a leader.
6. Kwen Liew, the first Malaysian female chef to receive a Michelin star
Not only does Malaysia produce some of the best cuisine in the world, we also have some of the best chefs too! Kwen, from Ipoh, just became the first Malaysian female chef to be awarded with a Michelin star in February 2018.
The Ipoh-born chef has a Diplôme of Pastry, and has worked in Australia as well as Thailand before moving to France. Kwen and her husband then decided to open their own restaurant - Pertinence - in Paris, serving "French cuisine adorned with Japanese technique". The restaurant has only been opened for barely a year before it was visited by Michelin inspectors and awarded its first star.
Kwen is also one of the only two female chefs to receive a Michelin star in this year's Michelin Guide France. When asked about the challenges she faced in the male-dominated culinary industry, she told the interviewer that she had to start "acting like a man when in the kitchen" to prove herself to her team of chefs.
7. The KuBest Innovation Team, winner of the Human Resources Development for Nuclear Power Programmes
The KuBest Innovation Team is formed by three students from SMK Kuala Besut in Terengganu, which includes Muhammad Syazwan Mat Sidik, Muhammad Anuar Abd Ghani, and Safiyyah Muhammad Nasir.
The Form 4 and 5 students represented the country at the Third International Conference on Human Resources Development for Nuclear Power Programmes. They went up against 188 teams from 30 countries, going through two different stages to make it to the finals at Gyeongju, South Korea.
The KuBest Innovation Team managed to beat teams from Hungary, USA, Japan, and more with their presentation titled '100 Things About Nuclear Science and Life'. Education Minister Dr. Maszlee Malik even congratulated them on their achievement in a tweet.
8. Professor Dr. Ng Kwan Hoong, the first Malaysian to receive the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award
The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award is the most prestigious award in the medical physics field, and it was just awarded to a Malaysian senior professor for his contributions towards breast cancer research. He's also the first recipient of the award who is from a developing country.
Prof. Dr. Ng is from the Faculty of Medicine in Universiti Malaya, whose research focuses on breast imaging, radiological protection, radiation dosimetry, medical physics education, and risk communication. He also serves on the International Atomic Energy Agency as an expert and consultant.
The award is only one of Prof. Dr. Ng's many international achievements. After he was named as one of the top 50 medical physicists by the International Organisation for Medical Physics, he said in an interview with The Star that it was a special moment for him as a scientist from a developing country as it proved that they too "can contribute to humanity".
9. Quek Shio Chuan, director of 'Guang', the four-time nominee at the Shanghai International Film Festival
Shio Chuan's debut film, 'Guang', was just shortlisted for four awards at the Shanghai International Film Festival - Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress.
The feature film tells the story about a young man with autism who is on a quest to look for the 'perfect' glass. The story is something close to Shio Chuan's heart as well as it's inspired by his experience growing up with an autistic brother.
In an interview, Shio Chuan said that filming 'Guang' was "a very long journey" and a really difficult process. However, he and his team's determination and perseverance eventually paid off as the film has since been shortlisted for a few international awards.
We all know that achieving our dreams is never an easy task - you have to work hard for it and dare to take risks
The nine Malaysians listed above demonstrate great examples of perseverance, and tell us that it's never too late to achieve your dreams.
For that, the BALL Watch Company believes and encourages Malaysians to be themselves, and go forward to make their dreams come true.
Share your dreams with us here and stand a chance to win a BALL Fireman NECC watch worth RM6,200