Sarawak Uni Confers Special Degree To Cancer-Stricken Student To Make His Dream Come True

23-year-old Phu Joon Meng said he knew his dream to finish his studies on time will never come true.

Cover image via University College of Technology Sarawak/Facebook

A university in Sarawak has awarded a degree under special provisions to a cancer-stricken student who is on his deathbed

Phu Joon Meng is a 23-year-old student at the University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS), pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Quantity Surveying, reported The Borneo Post.

Unlike most students, Phu will not be able to complete his studies and step into adulthood because in May 2019, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. 

After battling for over a year now, he has been advised to stop the treatment and enjoy his remaining days.

In the conferral ceremony, UCTS vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Khairuddin Ab Hamid said he was honoured to present the university's first degree under special provisions, known officially as an aegrotat degree, to a student.

According to him, an aegrotat degree is given to a candidate who is unable to undertake their exams due to their terminal illness or death

The degree is honoured to them under the presumption that they have completed the courses and exams, thus they would have satisfied the requirements to graduate.

"This ceremony is dedicated to a special person to be awarded a special degree and for a special reason," Khairuddin said in a speech yesterday, 18 August.

This special person who we are celebrating today, despite being very ill, he is very determined, worked extremely hard, and was so committed towards his studies.

A photo published on The Borneo Post shows Phu receiving the degree from the vice-chancellor alongside his parents.

Phu realised he was sick when he was in his final semester to complete his tertiary education

In May last year, he was forced to defer his studies to undergo treatment at Sarawak General Hospital.

"Because I'm in the Taekwando club, I felt very dizzy and weak after training. Initially, I thought that it was because I was overexerting myself until one day, I was not doing any exercise but I felt very dizzy and was vomiting, so I went to the hospital," the 23-year-old related.

"That's when I found out something was wrong."

At the hospital, he was told to get a second opinion at a Kuching hospital. After doing so, he eventually found out that he had a brain tumour.

"[They] advised me to go for surgery, which I did on June 29 last year," he said.

Despite being terminally ill, Phu went back to the university in February this year to continue his studies

His determination had moved many lecturers, especially after they learned that Phu had always attended their online lectures while on his way to the hospital.

Unfortunately, the tumour shared the same resilience as Phu's determination. The cancer cells are said to have spread to other parts of his body.

In view of that, physicians advised him that it would be best for him to stop treatment.

Image via The Borneo Post

"I just want to be healthy again," Phu lamented

According to New Sarawak Tribune, Phu said he knew his dream to finish his studies on time as others will never come true.

"But I am grateful to receive this Aegrotat Special Award," he said after the ceremony on Tuesday.

He also added that health is very important and urged everyone not to take it for granted.

Once a person is sick, he said the person can only rely on other people to take care of them.

"All I want to do now is to spend the rest of my life with my family, especially my parents," he lamented.

"I want to create more memories with my parents and my brothers before I leave the world."

Similarly, a seven-year-old boy with terminal cancer fulfilled his dream of becoming a firefighter:

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