MALAYSIA - A passion for teaching combined with a love for chemistry was the reason why Capt Chan Weng Kwai pushed his students to delve deep into the world of chemistry when he was a teacher.
His efforts did not go unnoticed as the Malaysian Institute of Chemistry (IKM) awarded him a Fellowship for his contributions in the field of chemistry education.
During the same award ceremony, a casual encounter with representatives from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), United Kingdom (UK), quickly escalated to Chan being offered another fellowship, this time by the prestigious UK society.
They were so impressed with Chan's many contributions in promoting chemistry education in Malaysia that they made a rare exception for him to join the RSC as a fellow.
The 62-year-old is the first local graduate to receive the RSC fellowship without making a direct contribution to the UK's chemistry scene.
"I have only been educated in Malaysia yet they (RSC) recognised my efforts and contributions in promoting chemistry education throughout my teaching career," he said.
"I am actively involved in chemistry education and used to push my students to join the Chemistry Club at all the schools I served," he added.
The RSC Fellowship is usually only awarded to those who have studied chemistry in the UK or have made a significant contribution in the field of chemistry there.
Chan received the RSC Fellowship from RSC membership recruitment supervisor Katie Dryden-Holt.
"I am very proud to receive this fellowship from the RSC and also a fellowship from IKM in honour of my work to spark students' interest in this fascinating subject," he said.
Chan graduated from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) with a degree in Physics and Chemistry with Education in 1976.
He became a captain while he was with the Malaysian Army Reserve which he joined during his varsity days.
The former school principal said he joined IKM after graduation to keep his options open as there were a lot of job opportunities in the chemical sciences at the time.