Ipoh Boy is Malaysia's First
Mathews Family Scholarship

15 July 2021 | Local News | By Mei Kuan
Wong Wen Kyle, an Ipoh native, will receive the Mathews Family Scholarship at Queen’s University Belfast, becoming the first Malaysian to do so.

Ipoh Boy is Malaysia's First Mathews Family Scholarship Recipient at Queen's

15 July 2021 | Local News | By Mei Kuan
Meet Wong Wen Kyle, an Ipoh native and the first Malaysian to be awarded the prestigious Mathews Family Scholarship at Queen’s University Belfast. This scholarship recognizes exceptional medical students, granting them the opportunity to pursue an intercalated degree in Cancer Medicine. With a passion fueled by personal experiences, Wong is dedicated to breast cancer research. His journey reflects the power of inspiration and the pursuit of making a difference in the medical field.

Wong Wen Kyle, an Ipoh native, will receive the Mathews Family Scholarship at Queen's University Belfast, becoming the first Malaysian to do so. 

The scholarship is given each year to a Queen’s medical student to pursue the intercalated degree MSc (Res) in Cancer Medicine in breast cancer research, according to the university’s Development and Alumni Relations Office. Former Poi Lam (Independent) High School student Kyle, now 23 years old, completed his A Levels at Taylor’s College in Selangor before enrolling in Queen’s in September 2017. Ipoh Echo recently conducted a virtual interview with the fourth-year medical student to find out more.

“My grandma was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer when I was around 5 years old. She started chemotherapy, which was really difficult for her. She fortunately made it through it and is now well. Because I saw firsthand how a doctor may save a patient’s life when they are on the verge of passing away, that served as a major inspiration for me to pursue a profession in medicine. My family has a history of breast cancer, and we are aware of how prevalent it is among women, which is why I am particularly interested in this disease. As a result, I decided to do something to aid those with this illness, Kyle said, naming his Ipoh family as his primary inspiration.

His research, which started in October of last year, is primarily focused on how radiotherapy affects breast cancer cells. The majority of the trials will be completed as we are currently in the project’s final two months. Along with gathering the final results, I’m also developing my project thesis. “It really helps me to pursue this degree because, as we know, international tuition fees in the UK are quite expensive,” he said of receiving the Mathews Family Scholarship. Along with giving my family a lighter load, obtaining this scholarship allows me to continue my passion in cancer research. It genuinely widens my horizons.

The Mathews Family Scholarship was generously provided by Dr. Colin Mathews in honor of his late wife, who passed away from the disease, and includes a substantial project and dissertation in breast cancer research. 

Kyle reflected on his favorite moments from his time on campus, saying, “First year was the most eye-opening year for me because it was my first time studying outside of Malaysia. Coming to the UK has changed my life since it has given me the freedom to live on my own. Instead of being spoon-fed information at the university, we must obtain it ourselves by visiting the library, for instance. Being in Northern Ireland also makes it possible for me to visit stunning locations and interact with amazing people. The best experience was being given the chance to follow my goal, for which I am incredibly appreciative.

He recounted, when questioned about the difficulties encountered during the COVID-19 epidemic, “At first, we were allowed to go into the laboratory on a shift schedule for our study. Three days a week, the morning shift was given to me. We are now permitted to work a full day shift in the lab because the number of cases has slightly decreased. We can complete our lab work as a result. For our course, in addition to lab work, we also have online lectures. Because you can interact more with the lecturers in person, I would prefer in-person lectures. Up till now, getting used to the online lectures has been my only obstacle.

Kyle anticipates graduating in 2023 and intends to finish his 2-year housemanship (training) in the UK to earn a medical license. What about Ipoh does he miss the most? The family’s eldest child exclaimed, “Definitely the food, especially the dim sum (small steamed or fried dumplings) in my neighborhood and kai si hor fun (rice noodles with shredded chicken)!”

His words of wisdom for individuals thinking about attending medical school are as follows: “First and foremost, because there are so many requirements, begin the entire research process early. For instance, some schools demand the UKCAT exam, an English proficiency test, an interview, and others. There are just so many things to think about, such as whether the Malaysian government recognises the medical school if you intend to return home to pursue a profession.

Keep up the good work. Being smart is not a requirement for admission to medical school. All you have to do is work diligently and effectively. The quantity of material we must cover in medical school is quite extensive, so you should learn how to learn better, he added, adding that time management would also be important.

Malaysia has the most Queen’s grads outside of the British Isles, with close to 2,000 alumni, according to the university’s official website.

The late Tun Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, who was also from Ipoh, was among the esteemed Malaysian graduates of Queen’s who have gone on to achieve distinction. The well-known politician received his doctorate in 1964 and served as a patron of the Queen’s University Alumni Association of Malaysia (QUAAM).

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Breaking Boundaries: First Malaysian Awarded Mathews Family Scholarship

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