Nurul Ezzaty Hasbullah, a student at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), has been awarded the reputable Rhodes Scholarship
According to New Straits Times, the 23-year-old Malaysian girl was awarded the scholarship to study at the University of Oxford.
Nurul Ezzaty will be pursuing a Master’s in social data science followed by a Master’s in public policy starting next year, New Straits Times reported on Friday, 29 November.
Established in 1903, the Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest international scholarship programme in the world, aiming to develop future leaders through postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford.
The scholarship is highly competitive and provides all expenses for up to four years of study at the prestigious university.
Nurul Ezzaty, who is from Kota Damansara, joins the list of a handful of Malaysian students who have received the prestigious scholarship
To date, only five Malaysian students have received the scholarship. This year, 100 Rhodes Scholars will be selected worldwide.
According to the Rhodes Scholarship Trust, the scholars selected will be chosen from more than 60 countries around the world.
Passionate about social impact, the 23-year-old says she wants to find ways to reduce social inequalities along class and gender lines
She is currently completing a degree in health and societies, majoring in global health and minoring in anthropology, at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences, Penn Today reported.
Nurul Ezzaty has volunteered in multiple projects, including collecting health data in Guatemala, tutoring refugee children in London, participating in relief efforts in Warsaw, and painting murals with school children in West Philadelphia.
She also has a strong passion for public policy, gender and healthcare.
"In my own experience growing up as a woman in Malaysia, I have always felt like women are placed and treated as second to men," she was quoted as saying by New Straits Times.
"For the longest time, I thought that is just how the world works. It wasn’t until I came to the United States and saw the powerful calls for gender equality that I felt truly empowered to challenge the faulty gender status quo in Malaysia."
While surprised after having won the scholarship, Nurul Ezzaty believes that the Rhodes Scholarship will help her achieve her dream for Malaysia
She said that when she learnt about the award, she couldn't believe it.
"I had to read the e-mail three times just to be sure. I started crying and I couldn’t even tell my parents because it was 2am in Malaysia."
Nurul believes that the scholarship will serve as a great platform to give back to the society.
"It will bring me a step closer towards my dream of ensuring that all Malaysians have equal access to opportunities and a good quality of life," she said, as quoted by New Straits Times.
"I will not only receive world-class education at Oxford that would equip me with hard skills, but I will also be part of the Rhodes community where I can learn from other like minded and passionate individuals."
Born into a middle class family, Nurul Ezzaty also recognises that her achievement was due to the privilege she possessed
"I was born in a middle class family, to parents who completed tertiary education, and raised in the city center of Malaysia. Realising that my achievements, to a certain extent, are not really my own, and my faith as a Muslim, fuels my passion to use this opportunity to learn and grow." she said.
The bright woman added that her parents, Hasbullah Yaakub and Kartina Abdul Latif, have always been supportive of her wide-ranging interests and treated her and her siblings equally.