Kuantan, Pahang – On Thursday 20 January 2022, the Regent of Pahang, Tengku Mahkota Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Ibni Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and the U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur’s Counselor for Public Affairs Melinda Masonis celebrated the graduation of 80 Form 5 students from the Access Leadership Program (Access).
A U.S. government-funded initiative, the two-year Access program has been running worldwide in over 85 countries since 2004. Through Access, students receive scholarships to pursue intensive English classes, cultural and value-based enhancement activities, and civic engagement projects. Access equips student leaders to not only become confident English speakers, but to also adopt critical thinking skills and a civic mindset to serve their local communities.
The Access program in Kuantan is U.S. Embassy KL’s inaugural collaboration with Yayasan Al-Sultan Abdullah (YASA), a foundation under the patronage of His Royal Highness the Yang di-Pertuan Agong XVI, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah and Her Royal Highness the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Hajjah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Binti Almarhum Al-Mutawakkil Alallah Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj. YASA runs its own educational program for underprivileged students called Akademi Menara Gading (AMG). Through this collaboration, students participate in both programs simultaneously to gain academic and leadership skills that will widen their access to better jobs and educational prospects in the future.
Muhammad Adam Danish Mohd Rusdy, 17 from SMK Sungai Soi, said, “If I had had the chance to join this program earlier, I would have done more amazing things in my lower secondary school years. Access Leadership Program should be introduced to more schools to encourage shy students to step out of their shells and enjoy learning English in fun ways!”
“YASA director, Professor Dato’ Dr. Abdul Razak bin Ahmad highlighted “The Access Leadership Program implemented over 2 years jointly with the U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur and Yayasan Al-Sultan Abdullah has not only helped to improve English proficiency among participants. It has also improved students’ various soft skills such as leadership, thinking skills, and enabled them to make cultural comparisons between Malaysia and the United States.”
U.S. Embassy KL’s Counselor for Public Affairs Melinda Masonis emphasized “ Our Embassy is deeply committed to promoting English language learning and leadership development for Malaysian youth, By participating in Access, the students will be better equipped to explore opportunities for studying in the United States for their undergraduate or graduate degrees, or potentially compete to take part in our U.S. government exchange programs for youth, including the SEALYP and YES programs, among others.”
Besides the Access program with YASA, Access is currently being implemented with local education partners in Kedah, Kelantan and Johor. Through its various education programs, U.S. Embassy KL is committed to developing student leaders of the future, empowering local communities, and building stronger U.S.- Malaysia ties.