Mohd Amirul Afiq, third Malaysian to graduate from US Air Force Academy

Nor Ain Mohamed Radhi

KUALA LUMPUR: Hard work has duly paid off for Mohd Amirul Afiq Ameruddin, who became the third Malaysian to graduate from the prestigious United States Air Force Academy recently. Twenty four year-old Amirul, who shared his success story via a series of tweets on his handle @amirulafeqq, graduated from the academy, reputably the best military institution in the world, on May 22. Born in Negri Sembilan in February 1994, he thanked his mother for being the driving force behind his success. "Thanks for always being there mama. Thanks for everything. I love you so much. I hope I did make you proud. All for mama," he tweeted. Coming from a poor family, Amirul said life was not always easy for him and his two sisters. Moreover, after their parents got divorced, they had to rely on his mother's meagre salary and grandfather's army pension. "Not from a prominent military family or high income family." he said.

Mohd Amirul Afiq Ameruddin (centre) pose with his family members. Pic source: Twitter/@amirulafeqq

However, despite the difficulties faced, Amirul said his mother always encouraged them to study. He said to provide for the family, his mother used to work in restaurants and hotels in Kuala Lumpur. "She used to work in Secret Recipe and many hotels in the city and usually return once a month with our favourite food, Nestum (cereal). I love it whenever she hand feed me!" "Going to school, my grandfather will place 70 sen on the table. If there was a left over, it would be carried to the next day and topped up to the same amount," Thankfully, he said they received assistance such as the Supplementary Food Plan and school clothes. When he was younger, Amirul said his relatives had one day asked about his target for UPSR to which he replied 5As - without thinking. At this point, he said they told him not to aim too high and be "more realistic" because they were poor. "Alhamdulillah, I manage to break the family record and got 5As for the exam despite being poor. I am also the first in the family to get into a boarding school. SM Sains Hulu Selangor." Amirul said at the early stage, he was facing difficulty adapting to the new environment at the school but did not allow it to affect his studies. When he was in Form 2, Amirul said he was seventh among students in his batch.

Mohd Amirul Afiq Ameruddin (centre) pose with his family members. Pic source: Twitter/@amirulafeqq

"At the time, I realised that if I put in the works, there's nothing I can't achieve," he wrote. From then on, he said he pushed forward and after SPM, enrolled into National Defence University of Malaysia (UPNM), before successfully passing the tight screening to join USAFA in June 2014. "Since I was small, I always wanted to study overseas." he said and thanked everyone who congratulated him. "Thanks for all the wishes guys. I am so thankful and honoured. "I am not the smartest or the brightest but I really hope that I can inspire some of you guys, fellow Malaysian who think they can't do the impossible." © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd