“Rules and laws differ from one country to another, but the rules of physics are a constant”. This eloquent quote made Sharafina Razin fall in love with physics. As the recipient of the 2019 HELP President’s Award, Sharafina is bound to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Astrophysics at the prestigious Queen Mary University of London this coming September. Sharafina’s journey to pursue her dreams is extraordinary, to say the least, as it began in her younger days gazing at the night sky and witnessing meteor showers at two to three in the morning that developed her interest in astronomy. Besides mainstream books on science and the universe by Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan, Sharafina’s brother introduced her to works by Christopher Potter and Andy Martin that revealed a different perspective on the subject matter. Reading had sparked her early interest and love for astrophysics.
We at AstroX are proud of Sharafina’s progress as she was part of our mentorship programme. She took part in various activities in promoting the knowledge of science to schoolchildren. Sharafina states that “AstroX provided me with the platform to be more confident when dealing with people and children“ as she was tasked to convince people that science is not complicated or hard to understand. She was attracted to AstroX’s efforts in reaching out to students in rural areas as science should be accessible to everyone and not merely for urban schoolchildren.
According to a recent report by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, it remains a challenge to get students to enrol in STEM-related degree programmes. The government’s target to enrol 270,000 students in STEM courses at the tertiary level by 2020 was unsuccessful. Malaysia will need to improve on remuneration and continually develop career pathways for the youth to attract new STEM talent for the nation. This issue has not deterred Sharafina as she is determined to pursue her studies and a career in academia for as long there is an opportunity to do so. A perfectionist by nature, she did hesitate initially but decided to hold forth in her pursuit by virtue of believing in herself. Sharafina added that it is important to follow your dreams and not be afraid to reach for the stars. “Being afraid is normal, but you need to believe in the process no matter your age”, as she took her time to figure out what she wanted to do with her studies compared to her peers.
Besides her interest in physics, Sharafina is very much connected to her creative side and passion for the arts. She created an artwork depicting the moon inspired by Thomas Harriot’s sketches for the ArtScience initiative by the Academy of Sciences. The project aims to nurture creativity with the convergence of the arts and sciences. In addition, she is also heavily involved in the performing arts and theatre. She took part in Short+Sweet 2019 and Theatre for Young People 2017 at KLPAC. She is passionate about acting as it involves the biology of emotions, which she quipped is indirectly science-based. Sharafina believes that even if you are heavily invested in science, you should try to explore other areas of your interest.
This year’s World Space Week event in Malaysia will be organised by the National Planetarium together with a consortium of organisations named Spacevio (Volunteer Involving Organisations for Space). The consortium comprises of AstroX, Malaysian Scouts (Persekutuan Pengakap Malaysia), UniKL MIAT, MiSI (Malaysia Space Initiative), and Apadilangit. The virtual event will hold webinars, workshops, modules, interactive games, and virtual visits to the planetarium. We hope to feature creativity in the arts too. Space and science do not have to be all serious but should include the acculturation of the arts and sciences. Inspired by individuals like Sharafina, we look forward to a memorable week this 4th to 10th October 2020 to pioneer our efforts in promoting the Art of Science.
 Academy of Sciences Malaysia, “Science Outlook 2017: Converging towards Progressive Malaysia 2050” (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Author, 2018).