Michelle Chow Ai Lyn

Nilai U hospitality student receives plaudits from foreign journalists at recent F1 event.

“They thought my name was Miss Klang as my name tag had my first name and my hometown on it,” laughs Michelle Chow Ai Lyn who was among the Nilai University (Nilai U) team that served guests at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) during the Formula 1 race recently. For several years, students from Nilai U’s School of Hospitality and Tourism have been chosen by the local F1 organisers to work at the prestigious event after a solid showing at their first outing. Michelle’s bright and friendly demeanour caught the attention of a group of international journalists covering the F1 and one of them had written to the organisers praising the young lady’s efforts.

Michelle who is pursuing a Diploma in Hotel Management at Nilai U says she was acutely aware that she was not just a waiter on the day but an ambassador for the country. “F1 is a big deal. It is a prestigious event attracting visitors from all over the world. My principle is to do the best in everything that we do. I wanted to offer first-rate silver service to all of the guests and show that we, Malaysians, are full of warmth and kindness. As a waiter, I did not just serve their meals, but I shared with them what’s best about our country and made sure that they had a pleasant stay here,” declares the 20-year old.

This was not the first time Michelle had worked at the SIC as she also had the opportunity to gain work experience during the MotoGP last year. “It was a real eye-opener and I really enjoyed the experience. So I was really looking forward to working during F1 as such experience is invaluable and it certainly will look good on my résumé,” she states. Apart from being able to experience working at such world-class events, Michelle says she is very happy to have chosen Nilai U. She is effusive about the lecturers who put in plenty of hours after-classes to tutor students and to prepare them for competitions. “The lecturers are really helpful and encouraging. Besides ensuring we understand our theoretical lessons, they go that extra mile to make we get plenty of practical experience. Besides working at events like F1 and MotoGP, we are encouraged to enter competitions to hone our skills in pressure cooker environments.”

Michelle has been granted a 20% waiver on the tuition fees under Nilai U Merit Scholarship scheme. She is thankful that her hard work at secondary school has been rewarded. “It helps ease the burden off my parents a little. I advise all secondary students to study hard as you may qualify for one of Nilai U’s many scholarship and financial aid schemes,” she counsels. Nilai U offers scholarships which recognize both academic and extra-curricular excellence. For instance, students who have represented the state or country in sports can apply for Extra-Curriculum Excellence Award. There is a High Achiever Scholarship for academic excellence and a sliding scale under the Merit scholarship to determine the amount of tuition fee waiver. Financial aid schemes are also available to help students from lower income households realise their potential through higher education.

As for her future plans, Michelle hopes to be able to work abroad after graduation. “I would love to experience new cultures and different environments. That is one of the reasons I wanted to be in the hospitality industry.” She is also considering continuing her studies into Nilai U’s BA (Hons) in Business and Hospitality Management saying that a degree will allow her to climb the career ladder faster. Whichever choice she makes, Michelle is content enjoying every bit of her varsity experience and being a shining ambassador for her country, alma mater and profession.

Nilai U was established in 1997 and is located in the picturesque suburb of Putra Nilai. It received full university status from Ministry of Higher Education last year and is rated Setara 5/Excellent by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.