Friday, August 14, 2015


By Mansor Puteh

Note: Yesterday, is exactly thirty-seven years since I first went to New York City to enroll at Columbia University in New York City


I wished I had not gone to study film at Columbia University which is an Ivy League university but at a non-competitive university so I can be more productive and successful because I can relate to everybody in the industry and respective government agencies and ministries who are mostly those who are not formally trained in film.

And even after so long, Columbia is still waiting for me to submit my master’s thesis film called ‘Malaysian Snow’ which I promised to them I would deliver some day so I can finally graduate from the university with my head high.

‘Malaysian Snow’ is about a small group of Malaysian students studying at the University of Nottingham in England.

I visited the university in 2009 and 2010 and managed to get the support from the Malaysian students and university.

I was a member of the international observers’ team monitoring the Syrian Presidential Election of 3 June, 2013 and stationed at the City of Homs.

And it could be a sick joke that despite UiTM now said to have half a million graduates or alumni, yet, I am the only person to have managed to gain admission into an Ivy League university.)

This is not a joke. It is not a sob story. It is a sad story which can only be told by the only Ivy League-trained filmmaker of Malaysia.

And if everybody thought it could happen to the best brains from amongst the non-Melayu in Malaysia, who are said to be denied a scholarship to allow them to study at some of the most prestigious universities abroad, think again.

I am not a non-Melayu. I am Melayu and was then studying at the School of Mass Communications, Institut Teknologi Mara (ITM) now Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in Shahalam, Selangor in July, 1974 to be in the third batch of students of the school.

I heard many times some of the Melayu leaders say if there was anyone who managed to get a place to study at any Ivy League (Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, Brown, Darthmouth and UPenn) and also Oxbridge universities (Oxford and Cambridge) and the other prestigious or topnotch universities in the world, he would be given a special scholarship, no question asked.

So I was eager to try my luck.

I did not get an impressive result for the High School Certificate, but I managed to get a place to study at ITM majoring in Advertising which was then the closest course one could take if one wanted to pursue his education in film.

I had tried to apply for places to study for my undergraduate degree in film at some universities in California, but could not pursue the course as there would not be scholarships available to allow me to accept the offer, if I had got one.

So I decided to study at ITM for my diploma in mass communication which was then equivalent to a general degree.

And because there were many American Peace Corps volunteers teaching, the school looked like it was a branch of an American university.  

I managed to go through the three-year course and took extra credits, which caused me not to be able to excel.

And in the final semester, some of the students who wanted to pursue their education at the graduate or master’s degree level in America started to apply for places at some universities.

Most of them applied at the non-competitive and regular universities in the country which I also did. But I also applied at Columbia University in News York City.

I was not bothered by the reputation Columbia or Big C had because at that time I did not know what it was, and had not heard of the Ivy League.

A lecturer tried not to encourage me to apply at Columbia because she would know as she had studied for her master’s degree in Michigan, and knew about the Ivy League. But she did not tell me why I should not send the application form to Columbia.

And strangely, all the universities sent their application forms for students to fill except for Columbia which only applied the pre-application form, so they could see if an applicant is qualified to make a formal application for a place at the university.

I filled the pre-application form and sent it off and two weeks later I was given the formal application form which I duly filled and two weeks later, I received a letter from Columbia saying that my application was successful and I could enroll at the Film Division in the Fall semester (or Autumn) of 1977.

I had not even graduated from ITM then, and the other universities which I had also sent application forms too had also not yet responded.

They finally did one by one by saying that my application was not successful. They are non-competitive universities.

So I thought it was a joke for such universities to say that I could not get a place to study for my master’s degree in film when Columbia University in the City of New York why is a prestigious Ivy League university had earlier offered me admission at their Film Division.

1 comment:

Dewi Aja said...

Perkenalkan, saya dari tim kumpulbagi. Saya ingin tau, apakah kiranya anda berencana untuk mengoleksi files menggunakan hosting yang baru?
Jika ya, silahkan kunjungi website ini untuk info selengkapnya.

Di sana anda bisa dengan bebas share dan mendowload foto-foto keluarga dan trip, music, video dll dalam jumlah dan waktu yang tidak terbatas, setelah registrasi terlebih dahulu. Gratis :)