With the drama involving local student Azhar Ali still ongoing, allow us to shift your attention to our very own hero in outer space, Prof Madya Dr. Wan Wardatul Amani Wan Salim.
For those who don’t know, Prof Madya Dr. Wan Wardatul Amani, or Dr. Amani in short, made a big splash 6 years ago when she created history as the first ever woman in Malaysia to be involved in NASA’s space shuttle research programme to Mars! She was 36 at that time.
According to Malaysiakini, Dr. Amani was the principal investigator in a team of scientists, technologists and engineers to work on NASA’s first ever device that can measure extracellular ion from a single cell in microgravity.
In an interview with the online news portal, the Penang-born shared her inspiring life story as well as her strong views in empowering the society, especially ordinary people. Here are 5 interesting things we got from the session:
1. She started by cleaning glass and cover slides of microscopes.
Who would have thought that behind her skyrocketed success, Dr. Amani started her “career” by volunteering to wash glass slides and cover slips for microscopes while working in laboratories during her student days at University of Minnesota.
“I worked there because I wanted to learn. But because I did the job so well, they started paying me and giving me opportunities. To the point that the professor even recommended me to do a PhD (in biomedicine),” Dr. Amani was quoted as saying.
2. The reason she returned to Malaysia.
Dr. Amani shifted her focus from satellites to creating simple devices to help ease the local communities since moving back to our shores in late 2014. Her team is currently working on an reusable and affordable device to monitor blood glucose.
“I could have easily landed a job at NASA, but I wanted something more. I wanted to solve real problems. It’s not that I wasn’t keen on solving problems in the States, but there are already so many people solving problems there,” explained the UIA Biotechnology Department lecturer.
She continued, “When I looked at the context of Malaysia, I saw that I could solve this and solve that. My aim is for the regular people and local communities to be empowered. It’s about time that locals was empowered to use simple technology.”
3. Important advice on how Malaysians can improve.
“There is no age or background requirement, or a race or religion background for someone to do great things. That’s why I believe that when given the chance and empowerment from people on your team, people can do great wonders. A feeling of ownership, accountability and responsibility will drive someone to do their best,“ Dr. Amani told the local press.
4. On girls getting married at a certain age.
During the chat, Dr. Amani also advised fellow girls and parents to “not be pressured by society. Do the thing that your heart desires. And to all mums and dads out there, if your children want to study and be someone prominent, please do encourage them.
She continued, “I have to thank to my parents, especially my mom, who never pushed me to walk down the aisle. Instead, she always told me to pursue my PhD and be someone prominent.”
5. Advice on how Malaysians can sore.
“It is not necessarily about the pay,” clarified Dr. Amani, before adding, “A lot of people are willing to fly back because Malaysians are like family; we’re a very family-oriented society. The dilemma is always whether if you can do your best when you come back.”
In this case, the freedom to do anything plays a major role. “Do not clip our wings, let us fly as high as we want. Others don’t need to control us. Let us do the work and do the things that we love to do,” advised Dr. Amani.
Wise words from the woman herself! Hopefully others can learn and take note of her inspiring advice.