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Danelia Chim, Choo Xin Hui
The New Paper
Apr 30, 2016
She will be at her son's graduation from Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) next month - as a fellow graduate.
Madam Serimaryati Abdullah, 50, will receive her Diploma in Health Sciences (Nursing) while her son Muhammad Nur Aniqq Ab Rahim, 22, receives an Electronic and Computer Engineering diploma.
The oldest NP student to graduate this year credited her return to school to her son and colleagues, who encouraged her. Her son also helped her sign up for the course.
Madam Serimaryati initially kept her return to school and their mother-son relationship secret, telling only a select few as she did not want to answer questions regarding her decision to go back to school.
But it was her own son who foiled her plans.
Whenever Mr Aniqq saw his mother in school, he would call out "ibu" (mother in Malay) and hug her or hold her hand.
Madam Serimaryati would then tell her curious schoolmates: "He's like my son, but actually he's my friend's son."
Mr Aniqq joked: "My friends thought (my mother) was my auntie and I would play along.
"It's fun (having my mother as a schoolmate). I can disturb her."
Within months, most of their schoolmates were aware of their kinship.
But having her son as a schoolmate was the least of Madam Serimaryati's worries.
When she was admitted into NP, she was concerned about teenage lingo and the age gap between her and her schoolmates, but she stuck it out due to her interest in the course and her desire to advance her career as an enrolled nurse.
Madam Serimaryati, who holds a National ITE Certificate in Nursing, had not gone to a polytechnic earlier as she did not meet the minimum grade point average (GPA) required in 2008, which was 3.5.
The GPA was lowered some time ago, allowing her to qualify for the nursing diploma.
Madam Serimaryati said: "Initially, I got stares from people (who questioned), 'Is she in the right class?'
"Ten times a day, I got similar questions about why I'm doing the course."
Her troubles did not end there - she was slower in learning than her classmates.
She said: "For concepts, others needed just once (to understand), but I had to listen to it two to three times to get it.
"I'm also not IT-savvy, so I may have taken half an hour for something that took others five minutes."
But as time passed, so did her problems. With group projects providing opportunities for interaction, Madam Serimaryati managed to make friends and fit in with the rest of her classmates.
She even became the class's "mummy" - the nickname her classmates gave her.
Despite the nickname, her age was often forgotten. She laughed while recounting an incident where she had to turn down her classmates' offer of going clubbing.
On the difficulties she faced, Madam Serimaryati said sombrely: "I was feeling down because I was not doing so well. I just didn't understand some things.
"But my lecturer talked to me and gave me extra lessons."
Now, Madam Serimaryati is contented with her GPA of 3.2.
Mr Aniqq, who plans to pursue a degree in computer engineering, said: "I'm very proud of her. She has always been my role model but I look up to her even more now."
Madam Serimaryati is not yet done with school, saying: "I'll go further. I won't settle for a diploma."
She intends to get a degree after serving a two-year bond in a local hospital.
"I'm very proud of her. She has always been my role model but I look up to her even more now," said Mr Muhammad Nur Aniqq Ab Rahim on his mother Madam Serimaryati Abdullah, who will be graduating from Ngee Ann Polytechnic with him next month.