Previna Arumugam made national headlines after becoming one of just 25 outstanding students to be awarded the Energy and Earth Resources (EER) fellowship from 9 different countries for them to pursue their postgraduate Master's Degree at University of Texas, Austin.

Born and bred in Kuantan, the 28-year-old prodigy graduated with Petroleum Geoscience first class honours from Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP). This achievement speaks volumes about her dedication and passion for her chosen field.

Having said that, Astro Ulagam had a quick catch-up with the gem in the field of geophysics, and it was indeed a great one.

Bringing our pride to the international level isn't an easy feat, but when she finally found out that she was the only Malaysian chosen to pursue my studies at UT Austin, it felt like a dream come true!

“I learned about the program from Dr. Hijaz, a lecturer at UM who discovered it through his colleague. The program director was specifically looking for Malaysian participants because not even a Malaysian was involved in the program for many years.

Dr. Hijaz arranged a session with the program director to introduce a group of UM students & me to the program. Although the program had alumni from Thailand and Indonesia, I was curious about the absence of Malaysians and PETRONAS scholars,” she explained.

It was Dr. Hijaz and Dr. Richard who encouraged her to apply, stating that the program was well-suited for candidates with 2 to 3 years of work experience. With Dr. Richard's help, Previna was able to secure the GRA position which is unusual as normally a GRA role is offered once you joined the program) and accepted the offer.

This course is indeed special for Previna. Out of curiosity, the writer has even questioned the specialty of her interest in this programme.

“I chose this path because of my deep concern for the environment and the urgent need to address sustainability challenges. I feel motivated by the opportunity to work towards creating a more sustainable and environmentally responsible world. I want to be a decision-maker,” says Previna.

Previna, who will be flying to Austin on 9th August 2023, was over the moon and shocked to be offered the GRA position before she accepted the fellowship and joined the program, which is unusual as candidates would need to join the program initially before being offered such roles.

Life is full of lessons - especially when you're an adult.

As for Previna, failure and frustration have been constant companions throughout her journey, but your resilience and determination will carry you forward. Each obstacle that she has faced to date - only fueled her determination to succeed and has provided valuable insights that have shaped her goals and strategies.

“Embrace failure as an opportunity for growth, learn from each setback, and continue pursuing your aspirations with unwavering passion. Your ability to navigate through challenges and emerge stronger will undoubtedly lead you to great achievements. Keep pushing forward, and let your resilience shine as a beacon of inspiration for others,” - Previna.

Speaking about her key to success or any guiding philosophy:

There was once, Dr. Richard connected me with the GCCC supervisor to secure a GRA role, and apparently, the senior research scientist at BEG UT Austin described me as vigorous.

“I believe that captures the essence of my key to success. Learning is my addiction, and I thrive on acquiring knowledge. There is a famous quote that my coach shared with me, which I hold close to my heart: "Run as long as you can, run as far as you can." - Previna

Life without obstacles? You must be kidding…

Hailing from a background where her household income never exceeded RM1500 until she began working as a Geophysicist in 2019. Besides facing financial challenges and limited educational awareness, the young woman decided to stay determined throughout her journey.

From constantly earning As' in UPSR, PMR, and SPM and winning a gold medal in MSSM Athletics 3000m and a silver medal in the 2012 SUKMA (Malaysian Games) for the 5000m event - the fire in her made her even receive the prestigious Menteri Besar Scholarship from Yayasan Pahang.

“My story reflects the belief that poverty should never be a hindrance to success, particularly within our 6.8% Indian community. Overcoming obstacles is vital, and this recognition underscores the importance of triumphing against all odds.” - Previna.

Girl….You’re just setting a role model to those younger generations out there!

Thank you for putting Malaysia on the world map, and we are wishing you the absolute best as you embark on your postgraduate journey at UT Austin!