Course Recommender

Fang Jia How

Loving the Great outdoors
A desire to work in open fields led young lad to Nilai U’s Diploma in Agriculture management programme.
“I remember it is so clearly – the clean air, watching the birds fly overhead in the clear blue skies and listening for other wildlife. It was really a revelation,” recalls Fang Jia How of his first visit to a plantation at the age of 17. “The plantation belonged to my uncle and my mind felt so free and unburdened as I walked through the palm oil estate. It was then I knew that I had to find a way to work outdoors.” Immediately after his SPM, he noticed an advertisement for Nilai University (Nilai U) which offered the Diploma in Agriculture Management programme. Further online research convinced Jia How that this was the ideal programme for him as he had been toying with the idea of becoming a plantation manager ever since his visit to his uncle’s estate.
“You must understand that I come from a boring suburb. Just row after row of identical terrace houses with little or no greenery,” sighs the Kulaijaya, Johor resident. “So the trip to the plantation was a real eye-opener. It made me realise that I need not be desk bound and stuck in an office for eternity!” A trip to Nilai U’s campus further reinforced his desire to do the Diploma in Agriculture Management. He was immediately struck by the peace and tranquility of the campus as well as the greenery. It was exactly the environment that he adored. His mother was also pleased that there was secure on campus accommodation and signed on the dotted line allowing her eldest son to pursue his dreams. “I am very grateful to my mother for this opportunity to further my education.  I am glad she did not pressure me into a programme that I had no interest in,” he says. 
Although he is only in his first semester, Jia How is enjoying his programme immensely and says it has made him look at things differently. By his own admission, Jia How says that chemistry and biology were not his strong subjects in school but is approaching them with renewed vigour at Nilai U. “Truth be told, I found those subjects extremely boring. But am beginning to enjoy them as lecturers here show how they relate to the field of agriculture,” he explains. He singles out ‘Agriculture Systems’ as his favourite subject at the moment as it highlights the differing systems employed by farmers in different parts of the world. 
The young lad is determined to do better in university than he did at secondary school by engaging his seniors. The Diploma in Agriculture Management programme was initiated at the behest of Nilai U stakeholder, Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), to allow its staff to gain a higher qualification in the relevant field. “This is ideal as many of the seniors are FELDA scholars with real work experience. I plan to ask them to help me better understand some of the subjects, such as ‘Principles of Management’.  The existing mentor-mentee system allows me to tap their expertise as many of them have experience managing plantations or farms,” he says. 
Jia How has also targetted the BSc (Hons) in Biotechnology as the next step in his academic journey. “The Diploma in Agriculture Management will allow me to get some credit exemptions for the biotechnology degree. Biotechnology is very relevant to agricultural practices and I intend to learn as much as possible before embarking on a career as a plantation manager,” he states purposefully. He hopes to secure employment at his uncle’s plantation before joining a bigger operation, perhaps one that is operated by FELDA. As a parting remark, Jia How implores school leavers to look beyond the “usual programmes” and to check out the Diploma in Agriculture Management. “You will be studying on how best to manage plantations and improve yields. Helping to increase food and crop production is a worthy endeavour. Besides, why be a prisoner in an office when you can be in the great outdoors?”  he argues convincingly.
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