James Loi and Shella Beatrice, lecturers at the School of Foundation Studies, presented on their PhD journey at a panel discussion moderated by colleague Dr Christina Yin. Thirty-seven colleagues and postgraduate research students joined the discussion on Microsoft Teams.First, James presented on his PhD research topic “Shadow Education in Malaysia: Effect of private supplementary tutoring on secondary school students’ mental health”. He is in phase three of his research, but unfortunately, the pandemic stalled it as the schools have been physically closed and he cannot gather the data that he needs online. With the opening up of schools, James is hopeful to complete gathering his data by next year. Shella’s research topic is on “Evaluation of training needs of rural indigenous communities for their participation in rural tourism: insights of Bidayuh Community, Malaysia”. As a part time student who started in 2017, she expects to complete her PhD in 2024. Shella shared three main challenges she faces: temptation to give up, procrastination and meeting deadlines. Her advice also shared quotes that help to keep her motivated, one of them being from Walt Disney, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” James and Shella then discussed the challenges and issues they have faced and continue to face juggling their research, work and personal lives. Staff joined in a Q&A session orally and in the chat.