This week we met with alumni student and MS staff Ayesha Zulkifly (’06), who joined ISKL as a 6th grader in 1999!
Before attending ISKL, Ayesha lived in Jakarta and Brazil, attending a school in Macae mostly made up of children from Oil & Gas expatriate families.
Ayesha and her two younger sisters, Jennab and Aleia, are now all working at ISKL! Ayesha is working as a Middle School (MS) Substitute Teacher, Jennab as a High School (HS) CAS Advisor, and Aleia as an Alumni intern.
Here is her story.
“My first days at ISKL are best described as daunting, nerve-wracking, and confusing! I didn’t want to look stupid in front of everyone, so I didn’t ask questions about where to go during lunch or where I could sit to eat! There were so many students, so much more than what I’m used to, and the campus felt enormous!
‘In Brazil, I was considered the oldest below the 16-year-old High Schoolers – I was the one people went to for help. However, when I started in ISKL, I was puny compared to everyone else. Even though we were merely 6th graders who had just begun MS, everyone seemed to have already clicked or knew where to go.
‘I was super fortunate as on my second day, in Mrs. Leong’s Science class, two girls approached me and asked me to sit with them when I was introduced to the class. They even gave me a welcome hug, which calmed my nerves because I’m used to hugs and kisses, having lived in Brazil.
‘I have so many good memories from being in school, and in fact, I still call my experience at ISKL ‘the Wonder Years!’ When you go to a school with such a diverse group of people and see them every single day, you pretty much become family. It’s like that kid from art class is like the uncle who invites you to a random dinner party, or the school trip where you’ve been put in a group with cousins you never knew had a sense of humor, or even getting detention with a famous distant relative and realizing they’re just as expected and insecure as you are. I have way too many moments to choose one, to be honest.
‘As for activities at school, in MS, I was involved in volleyball, badminton, and an all-girls choir club. In HS, I got heavily involved in sports and was selected for several Junior Varsity and Varsity teams such as volleyball, soccer, track and field, touch, and badminton. I also did a bit of volunteer work in the non-profit daycare center Tasputra, coached an undefeated MS basketball girl’s team for three consecutive years, became Senior Public Relations Officer in my Junior year, and performed in the choir.
I liked to volunteer for many things, so I was never really an official part of many clubs I helped out in. In HS, I was known for my extroverted personality, so I wasn’t shy to do things. Having a super loud voice helped; people knew who I was back then, or perhaps they heard me A LOT back then!
‘For sure, I’ve remained close with other Alumni from my class. We attend each others’ weddings and are asked to bless their partners when we meet them! When I moved back to Malaysia after college, I relied on alumni reunions on campus right before Christmas to connect with other alumni in KL, and many were closer to my age. However, after 2016, I reconnected with some older alumni who have become casual friends.
‘As for the alumni from my class of 2006, they are spread out worldwide. We catch up once in a while on Instagram or Facebook to send love to each other or congratulate on recent news, or even better when we come across a nostalgic memory like a photograph or letters we passed to each other in class! It’s all good; it puts a smile on my face knowing how they have turned out now.”
Working at ISKL
“I started working at ISKL as a substitute teacher in 2013. Funnily enough, the one faculty who I thought had reservations about me, turned out to be the person who suggested I come and help sub! It was the shock of my life when he said he felt I had matured enough to do this and recommended me to the HS department! I also proctored for the International Baccalaureate (IB) exams because the coordinator had known me since 6th grade.
‘I’m very fortunate to have continued subbing until 2016, and I think I left a good impression among the MS/HS administration. When I applied for a more permanent position in 2019, I was offered a teaching position! I was not entirely teaching, but I was eased in as support teaching staff, which was the best way to get myself into the profession – learning all the ropes before taking on a class or a lesson plan on my own.
‘I have been a Permanent Substitute/Intern in the MS division for the past two years, and I solely focus on supporting the faculty when handling the class in their absence. In addition to subbing classes, I also provide extra support for specific students in the 7th and 8th grades. I focus on helping them get more accustomed to learning the subject or make sure they’re on track and are comfortable with the process.
‘I think my most significant achievement professionally has been attaining a teaching certification while under the ISKL internship program. Everything I was learning during my postgraduate course, ISKL was already in the loop of it all, so I knew I was on the right track and teaching in the current times. Perhaps another achievement would be gaining the trust of the faculty and staff when it comes to working. I’ve been asked to assist in many campus projects, contribute ideas to marketing strategies, and lead some classes on my own to top it off!
‘I never really imagined myself as an educator, especially in such a big school like ISKL. I always thought I’d be some hot-shot designer or artist in a big city! I looked up to alumni faculty Paul Ubl when I started substituting in 2013 as he was always free-thinking and liberal. To him, anything is possible and astonishing if it were to happen! He made me feel like I was doing something that could lead to something, even if it was just subbing for one class.”
Art & Skateboarding
“In the summer of 2020, the proposal to create a mural on the school facade was brought up by ISKL’s former Director of
Development and Alumni Engagement Lynette McDonald. Lynette and I observed the campus walls and thought it needed to be given some life to reflect the bare light when the sun was out and have a more diverse range of colors, other than the ISKL blue and yellow colors. We wanted a local artist to commission it, and in the end, I proposed a design that was selected out of a few others. As a graphic designer, it’s always a big deal when you get to see your work implemented for the right reasons, and we dubbed it the ‘Welcome Walls’ because it fits for its location, the drop-off area, and entrance to campus. It’s the most giant canvas I’ve ever worked with, and I am honored to have it up at ISKL. No one knows who I am, but I know ISKL, so this was me adorning my alma mater with a design I liked!
‘I got into the KL skateboarding scene when I started befriending more and more Malaysians. I started as a longboarder because I was more interested in the speed of going downhill, but then I transitioned to bowl surfing/carving and had to switch to a smaller board. When I realized I could combine art and skateboarding, I decided to start Hard Life Skateboards in 2014 – a homage to old school decks used for both tricks and just cruising around. The name was chosen by the co-founder who struggled as an artist in KL, and I allowed him to use the skateboard decks as a canvas while I used them for skating! Eventually, my husband managed the brand, and we released a few videos and several designs. It’s not a huge brand, but I felt like I left an impressionable mark as a female skateboarder! I worked a lot with the international shoe company Vans Malaysia when it came to events to empower female skaters. These days, there are a lot of local skaters who are paving an excellent way for themselves in the industry. I don’t do tricks, so I never compete in the events, but I’m pretty ruthless in a concrete bowl! As of today, Hard Life Skateboards are pretty mellow. We’ve cooled down a bit and are just conserving our energy for a come-back. My husband and I are planning to release another series of skateboards in the future but only when we can get back to a skate park.
‘I’ve been using most of the work-from-home situation by providing my graphic design skills to the Alumni and Advancement department. The alumni magazine, ISKL Selamanya, has kept my mind busy as It’s always fun to get creative with layouts – I’m a design nerd like that. I’ve also been working on some graphics/visuals for ISKL’s other publications like the MS yearbook and corporate identities.”
What does “Be All You Are” mean to you?
“The phrase depends on how you emphasize the words when you read it. Is it a command or a hopeful outlook? Or is it a piece of wisdom or advice? This phrase applies better to us alumni as a realization or epiphany. When you’re in school, it’s hard to try and be the best at everything you have to do in life. As a child or student, there are so many things we need to pay attention to – homework, projects, training times, relationships, and friendships.
‘After graduating from ISKL, I dabbled in different work industries, and I amazed even my dad, a top-notch engineer, at how well I progressed in various interests. The realization that I COULD be everything I wanted was what made me so grateful for the nurturing I received at ISKL. I guess the phrase translates as a reminder that who we are and what we enjoy or are good at will help us strive and keep us going.”
Do you know a student, faculty, staff, or alumni with a story to tell? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.