One-Eyed Journey to Triumph

The date of 7th January 2020 marked a great history in Jamsari Atan’s life. His four years of sweats and tears have paid off when he finally passed the PhD viva-voce after officially became a PhD student at Razak Faculty of Technology and Informatics (FTIR), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Kuala Lumpur under the supervision of AP Dr. Nik Hasnaa Nik Mahmood in 2016.

For Jamsari Atan, the glass is always half-full, not half-empty. Despite being visually impaired, his vision is seemingly flawless. His optimism has carried him through his PhD journey and eventually to this point of destination, a completion of his PhD.

All the hardship that he went through has successfully motivated him to achieve the highest level of accomplishment in his life as he described:

“Previously, I have worked with various job positions; a cleaner, production worker, supervisor, executive, senior administration executive, and human resource manager in several private companies in Johor and Kuala Lumpur. All of these hardship lives and past working experiences have encouraged me to further my study to the highest level of recognition, from diploma to PhD with my own fund without any financial support.”

“Even though the earlier application to pursue PhD was rejected by UTM, the second attempt made was a success after I obtained strong recommendations from AP Dr. Nik Hasnaa Nik Mahmood and Prof. Dr. Awaluddin Mohamed Shaharoun from Razak School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, which is now known as FTIR. When my application to continue my study was approved by UTM, I tendered my resignation letter to my employer and enrolled as a full-time PhD student at UTM Kuala Lumpur.”

Doing PhD is never an easy journey to probably almost everyone and Jamsari has shared his own experience in dealing with a “not so smooth” journey with his disability:

“A life-journey as a disabled PhD student was not so easy. I had to overcome various challenging obstacles; physically, financially, and mentally. Since my right eye was blind since I was eight years old, I had to depend onmy left eye from a prolonged reading or concentrating on a laptop screen during writing thesis. I even faced eyes-sore frequently during studying that required me to applied ice cubes or adequate eye lubrication to reduce the unpleasant condition. I have used my savings to finance my study and that really put me on a tight budget for my daily expenses.”

“Based on my observation, every PhD student faced different personal problems which might delay the progress of their studies. Thus, I have always told myself to control my emotion from being too carried away with my personal problems. Particularly, as a disabled person, it is very common for me to feel inferior about my disability when comparing it with friends who are normal and this feeling normally affects me emotionally if I cannot handle it right.

“Therefore, in my opinion, all disabled people should fulfilling their life either personally or professionally and a negative self-image should be avoided persistently. The negative feeling of insecurity, incomplete, or unworthy will only destroy oneself. All the challenges that I have been through such as the failure of my proposal defend in the 3rd semester, did not really stop me or break my determination yet motivated and boost my confidence level to reach the finishing line”.

Jamsari also emphasized nine key points as a take away for research students to succeed in their study namely 1) adequate finances 2) good physical and mental health 3) parents’ prayers 4) not too get carried away with personal problems 5) frequent meeting and discussion with research supervisor/s (keep praying that you will get a great supervisor to help you as what his supervisor did)  6) write consistently 7) publish in an indexed journal in the 5th semester 8) sufficient preparation for viva-voce 9) speed up in writing the correction of a thesis.

For Jamsari, pursuing PhD is not really a test on intelligence but rather a test on perseverance and mental strength. When students have these two important values, the journey to success is guaranteed to be achieved.

Nevertheless, for him, the actual satisfaction of any PhD student is when the novelty of the research is recognized by the examiners and journals are cited by others which indicate that you have contributed to the body of knowledge and this knowledge will remain forever to be shared with everyone in this research world.

Congratulations Dr. Jamsari Atan for the achievement and success. We are really proud of you!


From left: AP Dr. Nik Hasnaa Nik Mahmood (main supervisor), AP Dr. Norhani Bakri (examiner), Jamsari Atan, Prof. Dr. Haslinda Abdullah (examiner), Prof. Ts. Dr Salwani bt Mohd Daud (Chairperson) and Dr. Muhammad Fathi Yusof (Assistant Chair)