Elyse Bree Nantha: A Go-Getter Extraordinaire

Elyse Bree Nantha: A Go-Getter Extraordinaire

It is rare for undergraduates to be awarded honours in competition with tenured staff. The University of Nottingham UK does exactly that with the annual Vice-Chancellor’s Medal (right), recognising those who have delivered a truly exceptional achievement or made the most outstanding contributions.

While the whole world got locked down in 2020 by the Covid19 pandemic, Elyse Bree Nantha was selected to be part of this stratospheric list of honours.

This is among her proudest achievements in the 24 plus years that she was able to bless her loved ones and friends with, even as it paved the way for her to be accepted months later into the management associate programme conducted by RHB Bank Malaysia and to her last position as Legal Manager.

Ever-ready to tackle new challenges, especially where it involved global travels, she spent the 2019 summer break in Pennsylvania’s Camp Kweebec as a General Counsellor handling pre-teen girls and worked with a child behavioural specialist.

This 2017 KL Alice Smith School alumni, who was granted a full A-level scholarship based on her IGCSE results, was fluent in 4 languages: English, German, Malay, and Mandarin. These language skills facilitated her reporting for the Youth section of the New Straits Times daily and The Rakyat Post news portal.

(200 words)

Often finding herself at the centre of attraction in the company of family and friends, her bubbly personality drew an extensive string of friendships across the globe as Elyse preferred in-person interactions over online meetups.

From intellectual discussions to fluffy conversations, she was game – becoming an engaging partner with people of all ages and gender. Colleagues and peers still speak of her with wonder, astonished by how much she was able to accomplish so early into adulthood.

Elyse had a soft spot for the younger set and would gladly keep them giggling for hours at end. She was also passionate about caring for stray animals, carrying around ready-to-eat food in her handbag for cats and dogs she would woo gently and win over.

Extending support for the under-privileged was another key focus for her, starting as engagement with UNHCR Malaysia via the Alice Smith School. This pursuit continued in Nottingham, where she was part of a barristers-led initiative called the ‘inFrinGeMent’ project, leading several workshops to raise awareness of the dangers of female genital mutilation. Via the University Pro Bono Society, she helped facilitate workforce reintroduction to prisoners and further coordinated a project for the All Parliamentary Group for Disability.

(400 words)

These personal qualities were evident since Elyse was an infant, for she skipped crawling altogether as a baby to take upright steps before she was 9 months old to astound talent casting agents – going on to appear in several commercials and also sang jingles as a voice talent before attending kindergarten.

Lovingly read various children’s books at every opportunity by her mother, Elyse soon memorised her favourite stories and pretended to ‘read’ these books aloud by age two – before she could even recognise the alphabet! Her creativity knew few bounds, especially with building blocks – she was ever happy to build garages for her younger brother’s toy cars.

Her first temporary setback came at the age of four, when she admitted to not being able to read passing signboards from the car. Checks revealed that she had severe myopia and had to wear glasses with thick corrective lenses.

Even so, Elyse remained fearless in embracing everything life had to offer. She learned to paddle confidently in swimming pools with wing floats that were progressively underinflated – till she finally just took them off. She loved riding on roller-coasters and fast water-slides, fireworks were thrills the louder and brighter they lit up the night skies.

Though her mother tongue was English, Elyse had little problem adapting to Malay in kindergarten and then Mandarin throughout primary school. Her German fluency came much later with a long-term boyfriend, who failed to keep up as Elyse soared ahead in her legal career at RHB Bank.

Even at a young age, she had several quirky aspects. Elyse loved drawing and a double-sided Christmas tree she drew on a cardboard and coloured at pre-school has become the proud topping for the family annual nativity decorations. She continued to draw but largely hid her blossoming talent as an adult.

Sticking little notes everywhere for her family and friends became a passion for Elyse, expanding on her fascination with clear sticky tape since young. Whenever she fell and bruised, she would plead for a plaster (BandAid) even though there was no open cut. She adored plasters so much that at one point, Elyse even considered becoming a doctor.

Her burning ambition to become the best she could be may perhaps be summed up by the very first word she would utter as a baby, at around 10 months old. Unlike others who’d very probably say “Mama” or something similar, mimicking the nursing motion of the mouth, Elyse was looking far beyond.

While she was a baby, her mother would hold her up at the window to enjoy the panoramic view of cars, motorcycles, buses and more passing in the near distance; together with birds, dogs and other sights in the neighbouring housing estate. Elyse would point at everything that caught her eye and excitedly say: “There!”


  1. Naziera

    I worked with Elyse on a CSR project in 2021, and she was such an easy person to work with and she was so kind to everyone at work.. such a heart wrenching news to us here at RHB.
    Hope she rests in peace

  2. Marcus

    Its been almost a year now since I gave everything up to come back to Malaysia. To leave everything I built up over a 6 year period of being away, to have it all packed up in a mere month to come back ‘home’.

    A place I had not seen since 2019.

    I had vivid memories of Elyse during my time at Alice Smith. Though a year apart, I would often see her with her friends or sitting alone in the library. The interactions I had with her at the time were minimal.

    April 7th, 2023 at 6:30pm MST at Publika Shopping mall. We met for the first time, officially. I was still “fresh off the boat” after a stressful journey back from Tokyo – only 1 day had past since I officially touched down in KL. But this may come to a surprise to those who knew Elyse that our introduction to one another was normal. It was a simple “Hi, my name is…” and “Nice to meet you, my name is…” intro that in hindsight was completely bonkers. This is how it started between her and I – a simple “Hi”. That’s all it took for this friendship to blossom.

    To properly recall all the memories I had with here would probably require a book the length of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

    In the 46 days I knew Elyse, I experienced a friendship so pure, so chaotic and so loving. We could talk for hours about the most obscure topics. One of which I remember so well even till this day was this debate we had about why the Empire in Star Wars had every reason to exist over the rebellion. There were other moments such as when I took her to have real Japanese sake at a restaurant near her place. The most heartwarming I had was when she gave me permission to come in to her home and be introduce to her dad. Definitely not just another Boy Toy by the way, Francis.

    What I’d ask to do that again. What I’d ask for just one more conversation with her. To have been able to take her for Teppanyaki at some fancy hotel in central KL. To have taken her for a hike up Broga hills, to surprise her with a picnic set at the top with the same home brewed Chai I made for her the first time we hiked up Bukit Gasing. To have Pan Mee again with her at her favourite spot in Mont Kiara.

    As of writing this, its been 291 days since she passed. I still remember her. The songs we used to play in the car, admiring the dancing skills of Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, laughing together about the hidden adult jokes in Grease 1 & 2.

    So with this, I would like to leave down a message I had saved for her for all to view:

    “Hey you, Marcus here. When you were still around, you told me to make you 2 promises: First that I would return to Japan and continue where I left off. And two, that I would be there for your dad no matter what. Surprise! Ticked both of them off, muahahaha! We both really miss you, like a lot. I miss you a lot. If another life really exists after this, I’m gonna make sure to bring both that Toyota Supra and the BMW 456 series along with me. Maybe in another life then, I will see you when I see you. Just make sure to be there, on the other side.”


  3. Maria Fedtchenko

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  4. Marylyne Owoko

    The first time I ever met Elyse was through Maria. I had been seeing her around classes though and I can remember that she’d always be so confident to answer questions and engage with the lecturer, something that seemed so daunting to me. She was just so active in everything, it was so impressive because it was first year and everyone was scared, but she was very brave. One night, Maria invited me for an evening out. It was there that I finally got a chance to speak to Elyse. She was so kind and warm and inviting. She’d encourage the girls that were less confident. That is my favourite memory.

  5. Kyra

    I first met and got close to Elyse during my sixth form years in Alice Smith and in uni years. I still remember a lot of the memories we shared during that time – night outs, “study” groups, school trips, hikes, parties and so on. We hung out a lot in and out of school and we really had a lot of fun. I’m really sad that things have turned out the way it has, I wish I could’ve shared more time and laughs together with her. Elyse, you have always and forever will be a friend of mine x

Add Your Thoughts