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Jepri Ali Saipul is an English Education lecturer at Muhammadiyah University of Surabaya (UM Surabaya), who has recently completed his PhD studies at the College of Social Sciences, National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan. Jepri pursued the International Graduate Program of Education and Human Development (IGPEHD). In 2020, Jepri successfully obtained a full scholarship from the Ministry of Education in Taiwan to study for four years. However, he achieved an even greater feat by completing his studies in just three years with a perfect GPA of 4.0.

Behind his current success, Jepri had a challenging journey in life. He revealed that he faced many difficult times. He shared that since he was young, his mother worked as a street vegetable vendor, earning around 20,000 to 30,000 Indonesian Rupiahs, which sometimes was not enough to meet their daily needs. Meanwhile, his father worked as an assistant in a store in Surabaya. Jepri admitted that he wasn’t an outstanding student during his elementary school years. However, he realized that he had a strong curiosity to continuously learn and explore new things.

Jepri mentioned that it was during his junior high school years that he discovered a new learning method. From that point on, he always ranked first in his class.

“At that time, my learning method was to create written questions after finishing reading and answer them directly. I carried this method with me during activities to ensure I wouldn’t easily forget. I applied this method consistently until high school, which allowed me to consistently achieve top ranks in my class,” Jepri said on Monday, June 26, 2023.

During his time at SMK PGRI 1 Jombang, Jepri did not have to pay for his education as he received a scholarship from the Government Operational Assistance for Students (BOS) program and also achieved academic success. It was during his time at vocational school that his ambition to become an English educator formed.

First Bachelor’s Degree in the Family

Jepri, born in Dusun Nglongko, Kebontemu, Peterongan, Jombang, proudly proclaimed that he became the first university graduate in his family. His parents only completed primary school, and his two older siblings finished high school. Jepri shared that his path to entering university was not easy. As an underprivileged individual with a strong desire to pursue higher education, he only relied on his determination. In Surabaya, Jepri was entrusted to his uncle, who was a relative of his mother. His pursuit of education, including university, required his parents to exert extra effort.

“At that time, I was rejected twice by public universities. But I didn’t give up. Eventually, I applied to the English Education program at UM Surabaya and was accepted. I attended classes in the morning until noon, engaged in organizational activities, and taught tutoring classes in the evening and night at a private tutoring center,” he recalled.

Jepri used the income from his tutoring classes to meet his needs in Surabaya, while his father’s salary was used to pay for his tuition. He didn’t settle for being an ordinary student. During his time at UM Surabaya in 2014, Jepri was selected as one of the 100 ASEAN youth to participate in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, organized by the Department of State under the initiative of President Barack Obama.

Not only that, in 2013, he was also chosen as one of the 100 ASEAN Youth Eco Leaders organized by the National University of Malaysia, which lasted for five weeks.

Master’s Degree with LPDP Scholarship

After graduating from UM Surabaya, Jepri immediately started working at the university’s International Affairs Office due to his English proficiency, which led to him being offered a job on campus. He didn’t stop his pursuit of learning. In 2016, Jepri received a scholarship from the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP) to study at Yogyakarta State University. He pursued Applied Linguistics and not only completed the program on time but also graduated with a cum laude distinction and a GPA of 3.95.

After completing his master’s studies, Jepri returned to UM Surabaya in 2018 and became a lecturer. In 2020, he embarked on his doctoral studies. Before choosing National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, Jepri had also been accepted into several foreign universities, including the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales in Australia, the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, National Dong Hwa University, and National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan.

“I chose National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan because they offered a full scholarship,” he explained.

As an accelerated PhD student, Jepri has already published five journal articles indexed in Scopus Q1 and SSCI, and he has participated in workshops, summer courses, and international conferences in various countries, including the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge, UK.

“Be yourself, be progressive. Be true to yourself by being principled and always willing to learn and grow,” he concluded.

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