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Universiti Sains Malaysia Graduation Day Hiatus

USM Upacara Konvokesyen Keempat Puluh Dua
Universiti Sains Malaysia Upacara Konvokesyen Keempat Puluh Dua (42th)

Last Friday I am officially a Chemical Engineering graduate from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). I took a couple of days off from working and excitedly when back to Penang where I had spent my last four years there. The excitements were merely for seeing my course mates and other friends I met in USM. Engineering students’ convocation session was the sixth session, 6th of August 2010 at 3.30PM.

On the graduation day itself, everything went on smoothly. I went to the newly renovated Dewan Tunku Syed Putra (DSTP), registered my name at Dewan Kuliah L (Lecture Theater L) and wore my beautiful purple color robes correctly. The USM official personnel there were very helpful and skillful while handling with the agitated graduates. After few minutes of frantic chit chat with my friends, we proceed to DSTP. Chemical engineering graduates were seated at the centre front of the hall.

After a couple of hours of squeezing on the chair with extremely limited spaces to move around; even the slight movement of your legs can disturb the adjacent seats, my name was called. By using electronic name tag, we were scanned twice and your name will appear on the screen. I received my fake scroll (inside the purple file contained only the list of instruction which you have to follow in order to retrieve your real scroll) and after a very long doa recital, the ceremony ended and the unofficial photo sessions started.

Chemical Engineering Graduate
Me with my controversial sun glasses (some people requested for my "natural look" picture, which I did not take any. 

The weather was super hot – a typical weather in Penang, and wearing two pieces of suits and a heavy robe were not helping either. After few hours of endless smiles, hugs and small chit chat, I called it a day. I was drenching with my own sweat and at times, I noticed that my stomach was initiating an orchestra of hunger – I only ate breakfast before going there. Straight from USM, my parents and I went to Queensbay Mall for our dinner and a short shopping spree. We went back to the hotel around 10PM.

On Saturday, after taking my breakfast and went to a cybercafé along the Penang road to print out a survey slip which I forgot to bring (which charged me RM5 for printing one page of paper and the minimum 30 minutes of computer usage? Awesome!), we went back to USM to return back the robe and taking my official scroll. That when everything went wrong!

Firstly, I was not familiar with the main campus layout since the engineering campus located separately in the mainland of Penang and not in the island like the main campus. Unfortunately, USM seems to assume that people know exactly where to go around that HUGE campus. Signboards are rare and even though there were guards situated at major junctions, they were not familiarized with the area themselves. Perhaps they were assigned from outside to help with the event. One of them even said, “Just follow the crowd” – which was totally irrelevant since the crowd was attending another session of graduation on that day and not to collect their official scrolls like me. Whereas quite a few times the guards just gave the wrong direction and we ended up circling the area more than once.

After much effort; including by resorting to the GPS guidance, we finally found the Dewan Utama (Main Hall) to collect my scroll and pictures. The services there were bad! The officials during registration were rude – which is fine to me since I am still young, but not every graduate is around mid 20s, some of them are around mid 30s and 40s. Most of the graduates in the hall were still not sure on the procedures that need to be followed in order to obtain the scroll.

It turned out to be like this: register at the counter by giving out the receipt which stated you already returned the robe, followed by checking your financial status (make sure no fees are not yet paid) and moved to the survey counter where you must submitted two of the surveys given earlier. Next, you must go to the library counter to ensure you have returned all the books. Then only can you go to the scroll counter to get your scroll, before heading to another hall to buy your graduation pictures.

Regrettably, no visible notices were posted to spell out this instruction and we basically need to ask those who have collected their scrolls to help us. The instruction if stated properly can make the transition between counters and halls smoothly, but sorry to say, it was not there.

Ways for improvement:

  • Provide a map of the main campus layout to the visitors in the booklet given
  • OR put temporary signage of important places along the road that will be visited by visitors (DSTP, Hamzah Sendut Library and Dewan Utama)
  • AND ensure the guards there are familiar with the campus
  • Not unnecessary blocking the road and further complicated the navigation to one place to another
  • Personnel involved must have a common courtesy towards others
  • Make sure the instruction was properly placed at the designated areas

Graduates celebrating their convocation! 

This is not me lambasted my own university; it is because of love I highlighted these blunders to others. When lots of posters were set up to proudly announce USM’s APEX status (Accelerated Programme for Excellence), the quality of services provided by the university need to be upheld high as par as its noble vision and mission; which is, Transforming Higher Education for a Sustainable Tomorrow.

Kindly noted, that this post was written from author’s own personal point of view and experiences on those two days of hiatus and madness. Others may have a better experience than this. More PICTURES of my graduation day will be posted later. Thank you.

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