Laela Yustika was thankful that after finishing her high school studies from SMA 1 Selong in East Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, she was confirmed to continue to college at Chemical Engineering Department at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM).
Getting accepted at UGM, said Laela, still feels like a dream. She broke into happy tears, hardly believing the fact. She would then remember her late father, Muhammad Syukur, who had always encouraged her to keep learning.
"Now I feel relieved that I’ve kept my promise to my father. Before he died, I’d promised him to go to study at UGM,” Laela was sobbing when met at her home in Gerami hamlet, Gelora village in East Lombok sub-district.
Her father died in an accident when she was still at the tenth grade. She had lost hopes afterwards because her father was the closest person that knew her well. Just like when she decided to study at SMA Negeri 1 Selong which was further away from their home. Her family rejected it, only her father gave her support in silence. So, finally, due to the distance, Laela had to live in a boarding home near the school, where she spent most of her days studying.
“I just did studies and studies in the boarding house. Sometimes I was not aware of the time,” she said.
Her hard work proved to be fruitful. From grade ten to twelve, Laela always above average grades in her report card. Finally, she was admitted at UGM with the Bidik misi scholarship from government.
"It was all like a dream. I feel that now I would be able to study at the university, it was more due to 80 percent of prayers and 20 percent of study,” she smiled.
The girl born in Sepolong, Lombok, on 2 August 1999, did not specify what she would want to become in the later stage of her life. She had just dreamed to be able to work in the laboratory busy with test tubes and chemical reactions.
"I really like Physics and Chemistry. I’m willing to beat my brains out to learn them and again beating my brains out to learn English so that I can better learn Chemical Engineering,” she said.
Once a week, Laela went home to reunite with her family. But she had to hold her desires back if she needed anything, because after the father passed away, it was not an easy condition for the family. The mother, Sukartini, managed the small plot of land belonging to her father to grow chili peppers. So, it came as no surprise that when Laela would return to the school town, her mother gave her only 100 thousand for her living. Then, Laela chose to do fasting every Monday and Thursday.
"After my father died, when I was in need of something, I had to think it through,” she said.
But, despite these difficulties, Laela still considered herself fortunate. She likes motivation books, where she could learn experiences of other people who have made successes out of nothing.
"I learned in the books that some people had even been in harder situations than I. But the willingness to change themselves had really spurred my spirit. They had more difficult life, but they made it. So, I forced myself to also make it. I want to be successful just like them,” said Laela Yustika in optimism.