Written by Bryson C.Y
Edited by Varshini Vijayakumar
Cuppa Coffee was held on 23rd April 2018 (Monday). From the entrance of The Lunch Box Cafeway, there were two seats indicating the direction of the stage and dozens of chairs were aligned in 2 columns. The atmosphere was vibrant and filled with voices as several people were having their own conversations prior to the event. The Sunway University and College Student Councils were dressed in suits and ties and were standing beside the projector and PC station in preparation for the event. The aroma of coffee bean soon filled the room. Ah, it was Starbucks Coffee… There were also various refreshments that were served. Many Sunway Education Group staff queued up for coffee after a tiring day.
After refreshments, the session began and the hostess, Ms Marisha of Sunway University Student Council invited Dr Elizabeth Lee to take a seat on the creative and modern looking chairs on the raised wooden platform. There were many interesting questions that were asked by the hostess and the students. The seats soon filled up with eager students and staff as well. There were students from student leader bodies, clubs & societies and also, other courses.
The questions that were raised by the hostess were fascinating and Dr Elizabeth’s answers were very clear and well elaborated. Some of the questions asked included the following:
The hostess asked:
“What are some of the struggles that Sunway Education Group has? Sometimes we tend to overlook the success that has been achieved now…but it all must have started from a startup right?”
Dr Elizabeth Lee replied:
“It was a difficult startup, indeed. I joined Sunway in its 6th year. I was assigned and discussed to move all the students from the old college campus (not the campus we are currently at) to the new campus (the current campus we are in). We also had to check if the business was sustainable. You might be wondering why it was difficult.
Firstly, private education was not recognised as quality institutions compared to today because students back in those days who didn’t make it to the “GREEN” stage would have to choose private education instead of government education. However, I said that it’s for quality education and we know what we are doing.
Secondly, it’s a STOP-GAP-PLACE… Basically, students would go to Sunway College for Pre-U and after that move on to another university or Twining Degree then move on so there wasn’t much continuity at that moment.
Lastly, Sunway Education Group struggled due to a recession as there wasn’t any money when the economy went down and Sunway Education Group was one of the many companies that were affected. However, Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah had a very clear vision & a long-term plan… He said, “I want to start up a college and I want this college to help students who cannot afford.” This idea was possibly to help students who didn’t make it and are unable to get into local university or can’t afford to go overseas due to recession.
The hostess continued to ask: With all the people you met to all the connection you have made overseas, would you consider yourself a lucky person?
Dr Elizabeth Lee gave it a thought and answered: I wouldn’t use the word ‘luck’, I consider myself a blessed person. Blessing also means that you should return them because you are not supposed to keep it. You would have to pass it on. We should be blessed and appreciate what we have.
The hostess’s last question was: What are your hopes & future aspirations for Sunway Education Group as well as Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah?
Dr Elizabeth Lee went on to say that Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah has not only pledged, technically he endeavours. He has put all his shares and kept it in the bank, so he can’t take it out. He places the money into Sunway Foundation instead. I didn’t have that kind of vision as Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah at that time but my wish for Sunway Education Group is to be internationally recognised.
After hearing about all those interesting past events and experiences of Dr Elizabeth Lee, the students among the audience had some funny yet hilarious questions.
One student who was sitting not too far from the front row asked:
When you started out as a fresh graduate, did you vision yourself to be “The Elizabeth Lee at that point?
Dr Elizabeth Lee replied sarcastically, “Well it took me some time to realise that I wanted to be a teacher because my mother was a teacher and she was very stereotypical and would ask me to become a teacher as you would only have to work half-day work back then. (This means the first half of the day would be going to school and teach and the other half of the day would be coming home and taking care of children.)
When I was in Form 5, we had to write in a form what our top 3 ambition were:
1) Doctor …
After that Dr Elizabeth challenged us to guess her 2nd ambition and said she would give us a prize if we guessed correctly.
Some people mentioned “Lawyer” but it wasn’t correct…another person mentioned “Accountant”, it wasn’t correct either… “Engineer”, nope. The hostess of the show mentioned “Policewomen” and all of us laughed. It was a funny answer however it wasn’t correct. The next guess said “Politician” and Dr Elizabeth’s response was “Oh no, God Forbid!” Someone from the back of the audience said “Model” the crowd was laughing at the humorous response given by a student at the back of the row. Dr Elizabeth replied “Err No No No thank you very much for the vote of confidence”, In the end, we couldn’t guess and Dr Elizabeth gave us a hint, “Today I would be scratching records.” The immediate answer was DJ and yes, we finally got it.
Majority of the students were surprised when they heard that Dr Elizabeth Lee wanted to become a DJ.
Dr Elizabeth repeated her speech again: 1) Doctor 2) DJ 3) Teacher…
She further elaborated by telling the audience that Dr Elizabeth was watching my teacher’s reaction when she read Dr Elizabeth’s 2nd ambition. Basically, she couldn’t become a Doctor because she couldn’t dissect a frog in her experiment, therefore, Dr Elizabeth discarded that. DJ was just to shock the teacher so obviously not that and therefore it comes down to the last option and that was becoming a teacher. Those were her top 3 ambitions.
The next question was from another student was: What do you think is the role for club representatives in Sunway to make Sunway’s dream and make it recognised around the world?
Dr Elizabeth replied with confidence: Clubs and societies are very important, international clubs and societies are also very good because it allows our students to learn and interact with students from all over the world. When there are competitions or meetings from other people from the same international club, we can share backgrounds like “I am from Sunway” Therefore, our students are creating awareness and spreading the word by representing as Sunway Students.
After the event was over, a student named Wei Yiang who is currently doing Sunway Foundation Programme shared his thoughts and feedback. He mentioned that the event was awesome. There were many other questions in the Q&A but these were the highlights of the event and we ended the Q&A there. That concludes the Cuppa Coffee event with Dr Elizabeth Lee.