Meet Afiqah, or better known as Ikah. She's a master's degree student pursuing Food Science & Technology at UTB. Apart from being a full-time student, Ikah also teaches Science at night AND runs a well-known food business on Instagram!
So how does this unassuming and yet very capable woman manage through all this? We interviewed her to find out more. Let's hear what she has to say!
ECA: Can you tell us a bit about yourself.
Afiqah: My name is Ikah and I'm 24 years old, a postgrad student in UTB. I used to take Biology in UBD but now I'm majoring in Food Science & Technology. I'm currently teaching O level Combined Science, but I also have experience in teaching O Level Biology.
ECA: How did you got started in teaching? And how long have you been teaching with us?
Afiqah: I got a call from the admin asking me to teach Combined Science, and the next thing I knew, I'm a tutor! Honestly, I felt reluctant to teach O Level students at first, simply because I didn't think I was ever ready to teach at all, but I had a change of heart.
ECA: Change of heart, huh? Why's that?
Afiqah: I wanted to challenge myself. So I was, like, "You know what? Let's do this.". So, yeah, here I am! It's been a year and a half since I started teaching here.
ECA: When you first started, how was it?
Afiqah: Umm, it's a constant learning experience for me. So, um, because I'm new to this - was new to this, so I experimented different techniques…different approach to teaching them. For every class, I have to adjust some things, and if it doesn't work out that time, I'll use a different method next time. It also depends on the behavior of the student during my class. If they're silent and I feel like they're bored, I change it up. So, yeah, something like that.
ECA: Before you started teaching with us, did you have teaching experience?
Afiqah: Umm…. Not officially? *laughs*. Just teaching my cousins but just the basic stuff because I felt like, at the time, I wasn't qualified? I didn't have the confidence at the time so I was just trying it out.
ECA: How about the difficulties you've faced when you teach?
Afiqah: So every student has different behavior, and for the ones that are quiet or introverts, it's hard for me to tell whether they understand what I'm saying or not. But in order for me to test whether they understand or not, I'll give them exercise to see if they can answer and observe their answers. So even if they don't really respond to me, I can see through their answers.
ECA: Between doing your master's degree and teaching at night, is time management an issue for you?
Afiqah: Not really, though. Because I'm not just a student, I also have a small food business so I'm actually juggling three jobs right now. So like a student, tutor at night, and my small food business.
ECA: In your class, how would you say your students describe you? Would they consider you someone who is "pemarah”?
Afiqah: I'm never "pemarah" but umm… I think it's like…approachable? I think they see me as that. Most of them try to be friends with me, to get used to me, cause, I don't know, my appearance maybe, it looks nice? I don't know! *laughs*. But, yeah, I don't have that "pemarah" look to me *laughs*, so it's easy for them to approach me. So even if my students have difficulties in answering the questions, they'll be honest all the time. They don't hide it. Some, the introverts, the quiet ones, they hide it, but the once that are used to me, it's easy for them to be honest with me.
ECA: To reach to your students, what methods do you find most effective?
Afiqah: Usually I give go through introductions, recap and go through the syllabus. For example, for Chemistry in Combined Science, last time I taught them formulation and equation, I'll go through the steps with them and refresh their memories. After that, I'll give them exercises to see if they understand or not, then we'll go through them together. Nearing the exams, then I'll give them past year papers. I also like to give them harder questions to give them a bit of a challenge.
ECA: How's teaching so far? What was the reason for you teaching? For experience or side income?
Afiqah: Not for the side income at all *laughs*. It's just for my experience, just to have that experience because, InsyaAllah, I'm planning to do my PHD after doing my master's degree so I need to have experience in teaching students. I will be pursuing Food Science & Technology for my PHD.
ECA: Tell us a bit about your food business.
Afiqah: My brother started it during Ramadan in 2012, and then he stopped the business once the fasting month was over. Initially the plan was for the fasting month only, but then it got a lot of demands afterwards. Since no one was handling it at that time, I decided to continue the business after A Level and that was in 2014.
ECA: Do you manage it on your own now? Including preparations, cooking and also managing the Instagram account?
Afiqah: Correct, but if we get like a large order, my family will also help with the preparations.
ECA: Your business Instagram account has almost 3000 followers. Do you have any tips or advice for people who are thinking to start their own food business?
Afiqah: *Laughs* I don't know! But I guess stop making excuses and just do it. Because I started with only $20 in my pocket, so there’s really no excuse.
Great piece of advice, Afiqah! We had a pleasant time interviewing you for this article. We wish you the best for your master's degree, and in the future, your PHD as well! We wish you even more success on with your food business. Thank you for spending time with us for this interview!