Alicia Raveena's Journey to Nutrition with Wellness at UCSI University

Published by Afterschool.my on Apr 17, 2024, 02:15 pm

Embarking on the journey of higher education often entails navigating countless possibilities, each holding the potential to shape one’s career trajectory. Like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings setting off a chain reaction, Alicia Raveena’s transformative decision to shift from pharmacy to nutrition initiated a profound journey of self-discovery and purpose.

Alicia Raveena’s tertiary education began with the Monash University Foundation Year (MUFY) programme at Sunway College in Kuala Lumpur. Initially set on pursuing a degree in Pharmacy at Monash University, Alicia soon found herself at a crossroads. Halfway through her foundation studies, a profound realisation dawned upon her–a growing interest in food and nutrition. This realisation was sparked by Alicia’s involvement in a project with the Thought for Food Organisation, where she saw the importance of nutrition and noticed key gaps in Malaysian society regarding it.

Alicia joined UCSI University for her degree after completing her Foundation programme in Sunway College

Transitioning from her initial plan, Alicia searched for academic avenues that resonated with her newfound passion. There were limited nutrition-focused programmes, but she found one that stood out as a promising option at UCSI University. “I found the courses offered by the degree to be comprehensive, and the fact that they cover aspects of marketing and business law will be beneficial in the future as a nutritionist.”

Studying at USCI University

UCSI University, which offers more than 150 programmes, is ranked 6th among all Malaysian universities according to QS World University Rankings. Alicia’s degree in Nutrition with Wellness was a four-year journey, with two of those years (2020 and 2021) occurring during Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO). Despite the initial hurdles posed by the MCO, she cherished her time at UCSI, especially appreciating the support from her lecturers.

She was given opportunities like presenting at the Nutrition Society of Malaysia Scientific Conference and participating in community outreach programmes which testifies the university’s commitment to fostering academic excellence and real-world engagement. She was also involved in various cultural and academic exchange initiatives such as conducting nutrition screenings and educational drives at diverse venues including malls and religious institutions. “One memorable experience was visiting Gurdwara Sahib Subang, where we educated children about healthy eating habits. It was an exciting and eye-opening experience for me,” she says.

Alicia participated in a nutrition community outreach at an orphanage.

Navigating university life comes with challenges, as Alicia acknowledges moments of overwhelm. Juggling her responsibilities while striving for academic excellence was difficult, but she remained dedicated. Alicia aimed to graduate with first-class honours, a goal that posed challenges, but she surpassed expectations by achieving first-class honours with a comfortable CGPA. She credits her lecturers for their unwavering support during tough times, stating,

“My lecturers were always there for me and provided me with a safe space to confide and seek advice on how to cope and perform. Whenever I faced difficulties in grasping my courses, they went the extra mile to ensure I understood by spending extra hours with me.”

Alicia highly regards several lecturers including Associate Professor Dr Satvinder Kaur, Dr Shashikala, Dr Crystal and Dr Chang. Reflecting on her experience, she emphasises her appreciation for Dr Satvinder, who taught her several courses and served as her final-year project supervisor.

“Dr. Satvinder mentored me and allowed me to grow both professionally and personally.” She recalls the advice from Dr Satvinder that continues to resonate with her: “It’s okay not to know something, but take the initiative to find out; remember the reason why you started, and if you want something, you need to be consistent.” These words of wisdom remain guiding principles in Alicia’s journey.

Aside from the support she receives from fellow academic staff members, Alicia also found solace in the ‘Life Group’, a Christian Student Association at UCSI University. Comprising students from various backgrounds, they met regularly to bond and navigate university life together.

“There were plenty of ups and downs throughout my university years, but having a supportive community to share and pull through with truly makes the impossible possible.”

Alicia received the "Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award" certification from Eppendorf."

The Other Side of University Life: Beyond Academics

Alicia demonstrated significant involvement in extracurricular activities during her university years. Apart from her academic excellence, she served as the netball president for two years, participated in a frisbee competition and was involved in the Dynamic Youth Programme, which aimed to contribute to the personal growth of refugees through sports. Additionally, there were numerous other events where she was active, such as the Student Enrichment Programme (SEP), which focused on skill-building and self-development.

As part of her degree programme, Alicia completed two enriching internships, each spanning four months. “My first internship was from September to December 2021 as a nutrition intern at Selangor Football Club, where I supported the Belia and President Cup players.” The following year, Alicia pursued another internship at KPJ Damansara Specialist 2, continuing her focus on nutrition. Here, she lent her expertise to the dietary team, further honing her skills and deepening her understanding of nutritional practices in a healthcare setting.

Nurturing Life Skills: From University to Career

Alicia's journey at UCSI University not only equipped her with professional nutrition skills but also fostered her personal growth and character development. She emphasises her newfound attention to detail and the discovery of her strengths in networking and public speaking, which proved pivotal in her career, particularly in communications-intensive roles. Reflecting on her university experience, Alicia identifies three skills that were honed: critical thinking, time management and leadership.

“Critical thinking became ingrained in my approach to problem-solving and decision-making,” she says. This skill became fundamental in her career as a nutritionist and content creator, allowing her to evaluate situations objectively, interpret dietary trends and provide evidence-based advice effectively.

She also underscores the significance of effective time management, a skill she developed through balancing various academic and extracurricular commitments during her university years. This discipline remains essential in her professional life, enabling her to optimise her schedule, meet deadlines, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. “As a nutritionist and content creator, time management remains a cornerstone for me.”

Alicia accentuates the leadership opportunities provided by university life, where she cultivated the ability to inspire, motivate and influence others positively. These leadership skills empower her to connect with clients, engage with her audience and foster collaborations within the industry, ultimately making a meaningful impact in the world of nutrition and wellness.

The Digital Entrepreneurship and Development Club of UCSI University invited Alicia to be the guest speaker.

Wisdom of a proud UCSI alumna

Alicia believes the process of securing a job or internship after graduating from UCSI University seemed comparable to candidates from other institutions. However, she mentions the unique advantages UCSI students, especially those in the Nutrition programme, possess in terms of hands-on experience within and outside the university along with their community engagement.

Beyond her role as a nutritionist with Nestle, Alicia also thrives as a content creator. Initially crafting ad-hoc content for brands during the MCO, she progressively broadened her portfolio. Eventually, she intends to delve into creating nutrition content to combat prevalent misinformation in the field. Alicia has also ventured into TV commercial (TVC) talent and hosting, securing roles with prominent companies like AliPay and Watsons, stemming from her bold leap of faith at casting calls.

Moreover, she commenced tutoring math to international school children last year to sustain herself financially. What started as a side hustle transformed into a passion, enabling her to impart valuable lessons gleaned from mentors and peers to young minds.

Overall, Alicia expresses deep gratitude for her UCSI journey, cherishing the experiences gained and friendships formed. Her advice to aspiring UCSI students is to actively engage and socialise at the university. “UCSI University consists of students from different countries, and it is truly a platform to exchange different perspectives and cultures.”

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