THERE are some decisions we make in life that are based on logic, others out of interest or even expectations.
Sometimes, we simply stumble into one, only to realise later that it was the best thing that could have ever happened.
For Lim Tiew Ming, 56, it was the huge recession in 1987 that turned her life in a new direction.
“I was in the accounting field and had been working for eight years. When the recession hit, I had to look for another job.
“That was when I saw a newspaper advertisement for lecturers in Sunway College (now known as Sunway University),” said Lim.
Initially uncertain, she decided to consult her sister who was at that time working as a lecturer in a public university.
“My sister was very encouraging. She told me that education was a good field to venture into so I applied for the job,” said Lim.
Now, 25 years later, Lim is the director of University Services at Sunway University.
Having joined the institution only a few months after it started, Lim still remembers vividly the day she attended its official opening ceremony.
“I remember taking part in the official opening ceremony and the late Sultan of Selangor was present. It was a very memorable moment for all of us,” she said.
There were only three institutions in the twinning programme at that time — Curtin University of Technology, University of Leicester and Western Michigan University. Lim was interviewed for the job personally by a Curtin University staff member who flew in to Malaysia just for that purpose.
“Even from the beginning, they took pride in the quality of education that was offered and I was glad that I got the job,” said Lim.
On July 13, 1987, Lim stepped into the classroom and thus began her new journey in education.
With little training in education, Lim said the institution has provided her with numerous opportunities to grow and develop herself in the field.
“Over the years, I have attended training in pedagogy and courses under the institution, both locally and internationally, to develop my skills from time to time,” she said.
Although thankful for the opportunities, Lim’s thirst for knowledge was the reason she pursued a Master of Education in 1996.
Choosing to study part-time, she received plenty of encouragement from the institution.
She added that initiatives taken by the institution included reducing the staff’s workload if they were pursuing their studies.
“Sunway has always placed importance on training its staff, even back then when it was still a college. Now that we are a full-fledged university, there is a more structured programme for the staff,” she said.
One big family
With so many options in the education field, it is a wonder why Lim never once thought about leaving the university.
“This place is my second home. I have been given so many opportunities here to learn and grow in my career. The warm and friendly environment also makes this a great place to work,” said Lim.
She proudly added that many of her colleagues, especially the academic staff, have been working at the institution for over 10 years.
“It is not uncommon here for the staff to stay on. We do not leave this place just because of a better salary. It is much more than that, it is a sense of family,” explained Lim.
Watching the institution grow from a small college to where it is today, Lim said, “We moved to the current campus in 1992. Back then, this place was a dry and bare piece of land.
“Looking at where we are today, no one would believe that this beautiful place was once ex-mining land!”
She humbly added, “Although it may not be much, it makes you feel good just knowing that you have contributed in some way to the growth of the institution.”
Like a proud mother, she described her feelings when the college underwent a status upgrade to university college, followed by the current university status.
“The older staff would understand how amazing it is to see something you have always dreamt about come true. It was just so meaningful for us, it was like watching a child grow up,” said Lim proudly.
The saying, “Once a teacher, always a teacher” holds true for Lim as she remembers her years of being in the classroom.
“As a teacher, you are always young at heart and never bored. The students keep you young and make life exciting because they have so many stories to tell you!” she said.
As an accounting lecturer, her background in the commercial field was a plus point as she was able to share her experiences with her students.
“I always try to bring my experiences into the lesson in a way that is relevant to the students. I remember telling them that to be an accountant, one has to be ethical and cannot have criminal records,” said Lim.
Even after being promoted as the head of the Australian University Programme in 1997, Lim continued to teach.
“I was still doing a bit of teaching until the year 2000. I didn’t want to let go of teaching because it was such a fulfilling job. Unfortunately, when things got too busy, I had to let go,” said Lim.
Such dedication only makes one wonder how teaching could be so fulfilling.
“Over the years, a number of my students have become even more successful than myself. And knowing that is the best feeling because you know that you have contributed in some way to who they have become today,” she said.
A number of her ex-students have even made the decision to send their own children to the institution.
“It’s just amazing knowing that you are now nurturing the second generation of students,” said Lim.