Cheryl Witha, from Malaysia, had no desire to pursue a career in education. Little did she know that teaching students would lead to a movement of empowering young minds to discover their superpowers. Read on to see how one phone call changed her life forever!

Rrrrng… I glanced at my phone to see the screen flashing Prof. Zaharom.

He was my professor during my university days and had since become one of my greatest mentors.

“Cheryl, my friend Winnie, who is the principal, has an opening for a communication’s lecturer”, he said.

I listened intently out of respect, but I had no interest in it. After all, I was living the dream (okay, who am I kidding, I was far from it). With the measly RM1.2K (Malaysian currency) I was earning, I barely could pay for my parking at my workplace. But I did enjoy writing for Essenze Magazine. There was such great joy to seeing my name appear in the magazine, even if it was only on the front page.

“No, Prof. I’m very happy where I am.”

Here I was. Working almost seven days a week, covering art gallery exhibitions, local singers in nightspots, heck I even wrote about how fish didn’t know they could swim.

How could I possibly be a teacher, let alone a lecturer? I thought to myself, “Cheryl, the rebel in school? The one who always questioned everything and never took anything laying down?”

“How could I teach them?”

But Prof. Z’s, next few words would completely change my life.

“Just shut up and go for the interview, okay?” he said.

Not the kind of words you would imagine to be life-changing, would you?  I thought the world of him, so I did just that and went for the interview. Since I wasn’t really keen, when they requested for my salary expectation, I gave them a number I thought was a no-no.

Barely half an hour later, they called me back to inform me that I had gotten the job with my requested salary. What in the world was I supposed to do? I mean, I never came there intending to take the job; I was just trying to please my professor. But, this extra RM600 would mean independence and I wouldn’t have to rely on my parents to help me with my bills anymore. I would be grown-up, taking care of myself – all by myself!

Well, the rest was history, and that RM600 would change my life in ways I never knew possible. I began a journey I never knew was part of my story. I had no clue what it meant to be a teacher, but it came to me, as naturally as breathing.

I never knew that teaching would give me that kind of warmth. Every time that light bulb moment would spark in their minds, the way they would look at me when they finally understood something they found so foreign, the tears that would roll off my cheeks when I saw them succeed or fail in their attempt and the feeling of them being one of mine. My kids, as I would call them, as they become part of my entire world.

What started as extra money to spring open my independence, opened my eyes to my vocation, my life’s passion for educating others.

I discovered that this small-town girl in the Northern state of Malaysia had the power to make or break an individual. A strength I have learned to safeguard very well.

Looking back, I’m glad that RM600 was a catalyst for me to touch so many young adult’s lives to:

  • Believe in them when no one else would
  • Push them beyond what they thought they could do
  • Open their eyes to the greatness that was shouting to be released

I didn’t just impact their lives; unravelling their greats, ultimately unlocked the greats within me.

Everything in life happens for a reason. Every opportunity out there is a dream waiting to be unlocked, a vision waiting to be fulfilled, or an idea to be brought to life. My advice to all of you out there is to listen to the voice of God, He speaks so often, but we are often not ready to listen. Trust that voice deep within you and let it lead the way.

We were all put on this earth for a reason and to impact the people around us. Ultimately, we are all teachers, regardless of our professions in life. Whichever profession you decide to pursue or are in right now, use that teacher within you to help others grow.

That RM600 ringgit today has made me into an impact driver and partnership builder. We are joining hands with other fellow educators like Siow San, as we attempt to empower these young minds in empowering the communities around them. Join us in the movement of provoking young minds to empower others with their superpowers!

Article by Cheryl Witha

Edited by Precious Ntuli

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