Passion to Serve – The Driving Force Behind Melissa’s Journey in Medicine

It was a moment filled with significant milestones for RCSI & UCD Malaysia Campus (RUMC), as the institution held its 21st Conferring Ceremony on May 30, 2021. A total of 111 medical students were conferred with the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of Obstetrics (MB BCh BAO) degree which was internationally-recognised by the National University of Ireland (NUI).

With this conferring ceremony, RUMC celebrated its 2000th graduate while also marking its 25th year of delivering high-quality medical education this year.

Graduating along with RUMC’s Class of 2021 is valedictorian, Melissa Mae Gabriel, who personally enjoyed how Medicine was both Science and Art.

Growing up in Kuala Lumpur and residing in an area surrounded by lush greenery, Melissa has always enjoyed getting the best of both worlds – the fast-paced city life and the wonders of nature, from the very beginning. Little did she know that she’s about to embark on a life-long journey to her dream career with a similar fortune.

Having a strong interest in a career that involves serving people and being unsure between choosing Medicine and Law, Melissa decided to first build a solid foundation by doing her A-Levels in Pure Science at Methodist College Kuala Lumpur (MCKL). She received the Merit scholarship which covered her full tuition fees. It was during her time in MCKL, Melissa was introduced to RUMC – an avenue for her to further explore her passion in pursuing Medicine.

“Looking back, I am eternally grateful for having done my A-Levels at MCKL and the good friends I have gained during my time in MCKL. For if not for them, I would probably had missed the opportunity of studying Medicine,” expressed Melissa.

RUMC’s medical degree entails 2.5 pre-clinical years in Dublin and 2.5 clinical years in Penang. This provides an incredible exposure to understanding teaching in the western world, being on the cutting edge in research, and experiencing the various types of cases in the tropical setting of Malaysia, as the students return to Penang.
“Besides academics, the opportunity to study in Dublin is also one that moulds students to be more independent, hone skills, and build friendships from different cultures,” said Melissa when asked about her inspiration to pursue Medicine at RUMC.

Throughout her journey in Dublin and Penang, Melissa showed great dedication, not only in her academics, but also in extracurricular activities, where she was part of various clubs and societies, such as the Women Association in Surgery, RCSI Student Medical Journal, Climbing Club, and Surgical Society – to name a few.

Another one of Melissa’s greatest learning experiences was her involvement in research in Dublin.
“Through my time in research, I published a research paper, won the “Harry O’ Flanagan Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research medal” and was honoured to be in the Irish Medical Times for “Undergraduate Researcher” of the Year,” shared Melissa.

Are you one of those aspiring doctors wondering if Medicine is right for you? Here are some tips from Melissa.
“I think the first step is to really find out if you (not your parents, not society) want to do medicine. This includes speaking to many people in Medicine and also other careers.”

“There will be trial and ‘tribulations’, there will be sweat and tears. Medicine is a very challenging journey and I am only at the beginning but it has certainly been very rewarding. As my best friend once told me, there are no bad days, only character-building days,” Melissa added.