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“I wanted to leave my career as a journalist in the New Straits Times to dive head first into becoming a Fellow. I wanted to give up the job – despite loving and thriving at it – because I knew I wanted to make a change in the education system in Malaysia. 

But a year out from planning to do that, I was still there: never having stepped foot in a classroom, never having gotten to know a single student, never having made any sort of change. 

I had failed the physical component of the UKCG – a test set out by the Ministry of Education needed to become a teacher – so I had never even gotten to start on my Fellowship journey. 

I had to wait another year to try again and I couldn’t help but feel a little demotivated. (Should I even leave all that I have behind? Will all this be worth it? What if I fail again?) But deep down I knew that I still wanted to do it.

I knew – after reading, seeing and experiencing the real-life change that TFM Fellows brought – that being a part of this was important to me. I knew that having the opportunity to empower the younger generation – inspiring them to dream big and build the nation – was something that was invaluable. I knew that creating a space where students could feel safe to fail and learn made all the difference in their schooling lives and beyond.

So I decided to persevere. 

I trained and fought the battlefield in my mind, building grit and a support system along the way: with my peers, forming a loving sense of camaraderie- pushing and motivating me; TFM employees, regularly checking up on me, easing any apprehensions; and my family, showering me with affirmations. 

It was months of pushing through before I finally managed to pass the test and months more before being placed as a teacher in a school. But after a year-long deferral, I had made it.

There are moments when I catch myself wondering if all that persistence I put in was worth it. A year of my life spent challenge after challenge, only to be faced with more challenges, navigating the challenges of leading a classroom. But now, after experiencing what it means to be a Fellow first-hand, I know for a fact that it was worth it. 

I was right to have been so sure about joining this movement and I was right about Fellows truly making an impact. So all those hours of trying and struggling- they were tough- but they were also definitely more than worth it.”

Beatrice Nita Jay is a Fellow from the 2020 cohort. She persevered with the Fellowship because she knew that it was important to her in making a difference. Join our Fellows to impact the lives of students across Malaysia too. Apply now at


Written by:

Teach For Malaysia

Ask any Fellow or Alumni and they’ll tell you that the Fellowship is full of challenges. In order to thrive throughout the leadership development journey, Fellows must develop a certain grit in the two years. For Beatrice, those challenges before the Fellowship even began.

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