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Orchid : orchid isolated on white background Stock PhotoJust about three weeks ago, I suddenly felt compelled to write a post about my mother, and before  I could even start, just two days later, she left us so quickly and peacefully minus much pain or suffering to be with The One. Distraught that I was, I did, but barely managed a post with more images than words in memory of Mama. Since things happened this way, I then decided  to produce a more comprehensive write-up, but I realised that there is just so much to write about her, and it may take me up to a year just to research on her life story. So I decided to shelve it temporarily, and instead, follow my heart that says write about this other woman instead, someone I have looked up to ever since I was a child, someone I  greatly admire, respect and love...someone who has taken over the role as a mother figure in my eldest sister, Azni. 

Like the orchids she loves, Prof Dr Azni is strong, sturdy and hardy,
yet beautiful and compassionate.  

Here's her academic biography taken from InTech :
"Prof Dr Azni Zain Ahmed is the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and International) at the University of Technology MARA (UiTM). She was born in Kota Bharu, Kelantan and was educated in Kuala Lumpur until the Sixth Form in Victoria Institution. She continued her studies at Southampton Technical College in the UK before graduating with a degree in Physics and Urban Planning from Aston University, UK. She also graduated with a Masters degree in Solar Energy from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and a PhD degree in Energy in Buildings from the University of Hertfordshire in the UK.  

She has sat on several editorial boards such as The Scientific Journals International and International Journal for Clean Coal Technologies and a Technical Reviewer for the International Journal for Renewable Energy. Besides managing the university's academic activities at the university, she also lectures in Renewable Energy at the Faculty of Applied Sciences. She has produced more than 120 papers in solar energy and daylight modelling, thermal comfort, solar energy technologies and energy efficiency in buildings. She has been involved in many renewable energy and energy efficiency programmes in the country such as the Solar Energy Roadmap, National Solar Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Steering Committee, National Energy Efficiency in Buiildings Workshop and contributed to the Malaysian standards MS1525:2001 and MS1525:2007. She is currently the President of the Malaysian Energy Institute (InTEM), Senior Fellow of the Institute of Science, UiTM, and Head of the Centre for Research and Innovation  in Sustainable Energy (RiSE), UiTM.

She has served almost 30 years in the university as a lecturer and later professor and held management posts such as Pre Science Coordinator, Dean of Faculty of Science before being appointed as the Assistant Vice-Chancellor of Research in 2001 and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Puncak Alam and Puncak Perdana campuses) in 2009. Among her achievements 
for her university include increasing the number of research 
grants, researches, innovation awards and income generated from consultancy services. 

Her eight years at the helm of research culminated in the awards received by the university, notably the Geneva Award 2007 and 2008, National Intellectual Property Award 2007 and the Malaysian Prime Minister's Research Innovation Award between the public sector and the private sector 2008. Her most recent contribution is in the capacity of Lead Author, Chapter 9 (Buildings) Working Group III (WG III), 5th Assessment Report, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2011-2014)."

As one can see, my sister is no ordinary woman. I don't care if anyone thinks that I'm boastful, because I just cannot help being proud of her. Not only for her academic excellence and professional achievements but my admiration for her in entirety: her splendid personality and capability to successfully undertake so many other roles too, as a daughter, sister, wife, short, a complete woman.

I'm not quite sure why the InTech writer did not mention Azni's earlier secondary education at the Bukit Bintang Girls' Secondary School, formerly a missionary school in the heart of Kuala Lumpur that had a reputation for being very, very strict, but churned out students of outstanding character. Maybe she's from the rival school Convent Bukit Nanas :-p.  My sister's years here were very significant and I believe, they were the foundation towards the shaping and building of her character. She was a prefect here and was very popular among her friends. She was always in the top class, and at home there was hardly any competition from her four siblings, be it in academics and                                                                 intellect, or talent and confidence.

The  new "tiang seri" in the family and the "seri bongsu"  lol!

Orchid : orchid on white Stock PhotoAzni learnt to play the piano and possessed a natural talent in drawing. She had a sketch book where she did her pencil drawings, her favourite being portraits. When she left home to study in the UK, I secretly kept the book like a coveted treasure, and looked at her drawings almost everyday. She could also paint, and entered a competition where she chose to paint a scene of the Mardi Gras by day and by night, and the participating artists had to paint in full front of the public. For one so young and without any formal training, I thought her choice of subject was far above her standard but as it turned out, her painting was a real masterpiece. It was eventually sold off in an auction and she had made quite a tidy sum for the school.

Having a mother who taught Home Science in schools, we were all encouraged, and sometimes forced to learn how to bake and cook while still very young. My sister loved to bake, and as of today, I have never, ever tasted a better Pumpkin Pie than hers. Now, even though she leaves most of the baking to her children, she still cooks the family's favourite dishes whenever she can steal a little time between her packed work schedule. 

This woman works so hard - her husband and children can attest to this, yet I have never, ever heard her complain about her work or about anything else for that matter. Her dedication and commitment towards making the university a world-class tertiary learning institute is truly admirable. Despite being full-handed pursuing academic accomplishments and fulfilling the demands of her job, sometimes both at the same time, my sister managed to raise eight children, all of them successful in their own right. She seems to be working for the university all of her waking hours, and yet she is still able to be on top of things in the domestic sector. Where family matters are concerned, nothing is too trivial for her. And oh yes...I may risk being given a cold-shoulder if I don't mention this: Azni is a very, very happy Opah (grandmother) with four grandchildren to her name and another two in the process. 

A day when I was bursting with pride. Besides watching my only daughter, Marzia
receive her scroll, I also had the opportunity to witness my sister carry out her duty in her capacity as the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Uitm (Academic and International), deliver the opening and closing address during the graduation ceremony.
I had observed that Prof Azni, as she is known to many, was the only one on stage who took
the trouble to look at each name in the very long list of a few hundred graduates at least, and
place the name on the face of each graduate, as she watched them walk on stage to receive their scrolls. She did this from the start right to the last recipient. And this was only one of the many, many sessions she has had to attend year in, year out during the University's convocation ceremonies.

Orchid : Pink Phalaenopsis Orchid Stock Photo
There are many, many more things that can be said about my sister, and even more things that I am not aware of, because she is not one who blows her trumpet. She just goes around doing what needs to be done without expecting any praise, recognition or rewards. I am so proud of her beyond words;  she makes me proud to be a Zain Ahmed, she makes me proud to be a Muslim, and she makes me proud to be a woman. 


Just brilliant.

06 October, 2012 21:49  

Ja, I can give you an A+ for this (not about me!) but for the beautiful write-up!

A bunch of the most magnificent orchids for you...

I suppose it is just a warm-up to Mama's Memoirs.

06 October, 2012 23:05  

Brilliantly written Kak Aniza.

07 October, 2012 08:28  

Jim...thanks for dropping by! Didn't expect to see you here :-)..and thanks for your comment too, now THAT was totally unexpected!

Yaay! A+ from the Prof! Nining...actually I wanted to write so much more. this is a warm-up about you still..hehe!

Thank you Faten..compared to yours, Kak Puteri's and Abang Mat's, I feel my writing ni standard UPSR je! I was quite tired writing this but I just felt I had/wanted to get it published last night. For my sister, my late Mama and my late Apak.

07 October, 2012 18:07  

The comments here are all misaligned. I'm so sorry about this, but I'm not quite sure how to rectify it. Abang Ahmad Cendana...helppp!!

07 October, 2012 18:39  

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