Nurhafizah Issa

Nilai U student takes inspiration from her widowed mother to pursue hotel management diploma.

“It was tough when I was growing up as my father passed on when I was just three years old. I can barely remember him but I clearly recall how my mum started a small catering business to earn some money. That food business was our only source of income and I have had to help out since an early age,” says Nurhafizah Issa. The 18-year old Pahang native says she barely has any time for any other activities apart from helping her mum run her business. “However, the chance came up for me to have a shot at higher education and I made the difficult decision to leave my mum for the time being. I believe by joining Nilai University’s Diploma in Hotel Management programme I have the opportunity to turn things around for my family,” says the determined young lass who is the only child.

Nurhafizah is clearly inspired by her mum’s fortitude and never say die attitude saying that is the main reason she chose to enter the School of Hospitality and Tourism at Nilai University (Nilai U). With a maturity belying her tender years, Nurhafizah says that after having years of hands on experience running a food business; she wants to emulate her mum and also to explore the management aspect of the hospitality industry. The former pupil of SMK Mahmud, Raub says she agonized over her decision as she did not want to leave her mum alone but receiving financial aid from Felda to further her education made her mind up for her. “My mum was so proud and happy that I would be going to university,” she says.

Although only into her first semester, Nurhafizah is truly enjoying her lessons, especially the practical classes in Nilai U’s dedicated training kitchen. “I am learning so much from food preparation to menu design and planning,” she declares. “Having cooked and eaten traditional Malay cuisine all my life, it is quite exciting for me to learn how to prepare western dishes. For example, I used to think soup was just a simple add-water-and-boil dish. But I’ve now learn there is so much variety and technique involved.” She adds that she hopes to surprise her mother and relatives with some new dishes during the upcoming Raya holidays. “This coming Raya celebration, I think my mother should watch out because someone else will take charge of the kitchen from now on,” laughs Hafizah. Given her steely determination, one would not bet against this young lady besting the matriach’s cooking skills and help carve out a more comfortable existence for her family.

Nilai U was established in 1997 and is rated Setara 5/Excellent by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.