Bandar Seri Begawan - The 24th Convocation of Universiti Brunei Darussalam will forever be in Norhijrah Hj Ahmad's memory, as the day marked the greatest achievement in her life, when she became the only person to be awarded the PhD graduate after much determination and hard work.
The Bulletin got up close and personal with Norhijrah, who was still on cloud nine after the convocation.
She first and foremost expressed her deepest gratitude to the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam for granting her the scholarship and opportunity to pursue her further studies.
She began her study, entitled "Peer Coaching as School-Based Professional Development on the Performance of Primary Science Teachers in Brunei Darussalam", in August 2007.
"It has always been my interest and aspiration to study as well as increase my knowledge and experience both personally and professionally," she replied, when asked what motivated her to pursue her PhD, adding that the support and encouragement from her family was also a factor.
Norhijrah was supervised by two local senior lecturers, namely Dr Lim Siew Bee as her main supervisor and Dr Poh Sing Huat her co-supervisor from Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education (SHBIE), who are both experts in the field of Science Education.
Norhijrah also had to do a lot of research reading as well as using the library and online resources.
Of course, continuous reading was also needed to keep abreast with current researches pertaining to the study.
There was no recognition of achievements in her five years, as it was the first study to be conducted in Brunei, but Norhijrah has presented part of it during the World Association of Lesson Study (WALS) Conference at UBD in December 2010.
Taking a full-time programme while being in service and with a family to look after, discipline was of utmost importance, and she also had to be wise in dividing her time between her family and her study
Norhijrah also feels blessed to have a wonderful and an understanding family.
She is very grateful to her husband and children for their sacrifices, endless positive moral support and encouragement throughout the course of her study.
"They kept reminding me when I encountered problems or difficulties about why I was doing this in the first place, and they were always there to pick me up when I felt like giving up," she said.
The interview concluded with Norhijrah sharing a bit of her background, whereby she revealed that she was only an average student during her school time.
She obtained her Teacher's Teaching Certificate at SHBIE in 1984 when she was a secondary teacher and later pursued her First Degree in BA Primary Education which she completed in 1993 at UBD.
Following this, she pursued further and gained her Master's Degree in 2000 and is now very thankful for graduating in her doctoral study
"I have a wonderful husband and four lovely children," added Norhijah.
"Two of them have graduated from universities in the UK while the other two are still studying."
She also shared that her eldest daughter graduated with a BSc in Audiology (UCL) and an MSc in Clinical Neuroscience (King's College), while her eldest son had just recently graduated with an Honors' Degree in Geology and Petroleum Geology (University of Aberdeen).--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin