BEMA Stands in Solidarity with NUS Undergraduates

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the world with unprecedented challenges. Singapore has certainly not been spared. The evolving Covid-19 situation has affected many Singaporeans, from individuals who are sole breadwinners losing their jobs to families that are now struggling with basic living expenses.

Several initiatives by the government such as the Temporary Relief Fund and Covid-19 Support Grant were introduced to support and help Singaporeans in this likely protracted economic uncertainty. 

It is a time that the whole-of-nation and whole-of-community are rallying together to support one another during this difficult time. 

Since early this year, many more in the community have stepped forward to help, be it businesses, charities or individual philanthropists, with donations in cash and in kind, going towards vulnerable groups, frontline workers and students.

To help students who are experiencing financial difficulties during this period, NUS has launched the NUS Students Solidarity Fund to rally the NUS community to raise funds to help financially-disadvantaged undergraduates. Building and Estate Management Alumni (BEMA) has also stepped forward to offer support. 

“As one of the university alumni organizations, BEMA will support and stand alongside our undergraduates during this trying time. In our small way, BEMA has donated $10,000 to the NUS Students Solidarity Fund and collectively as a NUS community, we hope that this contribution will go a long way to alleviate the financial difficulties of our undergraduates' families who are affected during this period," shared Dr Teo Ho Pin, President of BEMA.

Submitted by Ms Ong Yen Peng (Design and Environment '02)

NUS Economics Alumni's First Virtual Networking Event

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” - Michael Jordan.

The NUS Economics Alumni did just that during the COVID-19 circuit breaker period by holding their first Virtual Networking Event on the evening of 13 May. This was a milestone as it was the group's first virtual event since its inception 13 years ago. Instead of waiting for a better time to host a physical event, they decided to run a Zoom-networking event.

It was a great turnout of 30 people with Prof Satoru Takahashi, Head of the NUS Department of Economics joining too. For a majority of attendees, it was their 1st time networking online!

There was a good mix of alumni from the 1980s to those who graduated more recently, and some even called in from Shanghai and Tokyo. The alumni were from a diverse of industries, ranging from Finance, Recovery Services, Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Facebook, ByteDance (Tik Tok) to Law Services, Consulting, and Government Services, showing how Economics graduates are able to make their mark in a myriad of fields. They also conducted a poll that night, which revealed that the common goal among attendees was to strengthen their connections to other Economics alumni.

Many attendees sang praises of the event:

“It was great meeting Economics Alumni members and Faculty too. Looking forward to more of such events!” - Vikrum Trehan ('04)

“Fully enjoyed the networking sessions organised by the NUS Economics Alumni group. It was my first time attending the session via Zoom during the COVID-19 period and I'd say it was very well organised!” - KC Ho ('12)

“Thanks to the committee who made it possible to connect with Economics graduates of different age groups, from peers to mentors and industry veterans. Looking forward to the next meeting; hopefully in a physical setting post-Covid-19.” Evan Loh ('19)

"It was great to connect, and reconnect, with fellow Economics alumni virtually in these times!" - Naomi Tay ('13)

The NUS Economics Alumni Committee was happy to see such a successful experience for their first virtual event. Overall, it was a great evening spent connecting with Economics alumni.

Submitted by Ms Valerie Chow ('97), President, NUS Economics Alumni 

Physically Distant, Socially Connected – LKYSPP Alumni Virtual Get-Together
On 2 May, more than 40 Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) alumni across the world got together at the 'Physically Distant, Socially Connected – LKYSPP Alumni Virtual Get-Together', where 7 alumni shared their personal experiences of managing the Covid-19 pandemic. Johannes Loh ('10 Exchange) initiated the meet-up and chaired the panel. He is based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, as Senior Manager (Government and Public Sector advisory) at Ernst & Young.

Speakers included Louise Beehag ('18), Chief Engagement and Operations Officer at the Sydney Policy Lab in Australia. She shared that there was “a real sense of community” in her neighbourhood as people felt solidarity with each other and interacted more – though from a safe distance. Zainab Kyari ('17) heads to work daily at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency in Lagos, crossing five to six police checkpoints which are in place due to the lockdown regulations in Lagos State. Her role as Chief Officer (Personnel and Records) includes ensuring that staff identified for enforcement activities have the appropriate passes for movement, which are essential to the continued working of the ports.

Naila Maya Shofia ('11) said restrictions on gatherings in Italy have more than doubled the workload for educators like her at the Bocconi University in Milan. As a PhD candidate at the Department of Social and Political Sciences, she found the shift of all academic activities into online platforms an interesting experiment for the higher education system. Virtual interactions also form a major part of the day for alumnus Cui Fuqiang ('15), currently in Geneva, Switzerland, as Technical Officer with the WHO. He is also a professor in the School of Public Health at Peking University. In his personal capacity, he spoke on the importance of research-driven policymaking. Information on the virus and its spread has been made available to all countries at the same time but many things are yet unknown in this evolving situation, leading to uncertainty.

Singapore-based alumnus Allen Lai ('08), Regional Director for Medical Affairs and Market Access at Ferring Pharmaceuticals, agreed on the need for constant and clear communication as part of crisis management. Such communication must factor in how different parts of the community get their information. The need for clear and reliable messaging from the leadership was underscored by alumni like Minnesota-based Corey Christianson ('10), owner of KC’s Country Market. His grocery stores serve communities that are coping with disruptions in food supply as workers in meat-processing plants have tested positive. His stores have implemented regular disinfection procedures, mask-wearing and also curbside deliveries for the elderly.

Alumni on the chat also discussed the long-term implications of the pandemic, such as concerns about economic recovery and the likelihood of migrant work becoming more limited. The virtual get-together proved that although travelling in the near future seems unlikely, connections can still be forged and strengthened despite distance.
NUS Department of Pharmacy's #PassionPridePurpose Contest
Practising and Aspiring Pharmacists Share Their Passion, Pride, and Purpose

Commemorating its 115th anniversary this year, the NUS Department of Pharmacy kicked off its celebrations with the launch of the #PassionPridePurpose Contest, a series of three contests which will run throughout the year for alumni, students, and friends to share their passion, pride, and purpose in pharmacy. 

With the successful conclusion of the contest's first instalment on 15 March 2020, Ms Azrina Tan ('18) was announced as the winner of the contest. Three consolation prize winners were also announced, including Mr Sean Ang ('10). 

The second instalment of the contest is due to take place from 15 June to 15 July 2020. 

Submitted by Ms Ng Shi Ying
Malay Studies Alumni Sharing Session
11 undergraduates majoring in Malay Studies and 11 young graduates from the same department met on 17 February for a sharing session on academic life and post-graduation plans.

The alumni shared their personal experiences on how to effectively apply for jobs amid the current economic climate, and how to market their training in the Malay Studies department to future employers. Coming from various sectors like academia, the media industry, public and civil service, and community advocacy, the young professionals affirmed that Malay Studies majors continue to be in demand by employers. As students of the arts, Malay Studies majors can carry their skills in research and writing across multiple industries.

The alumni also advised their juniors to start making plans on their careers early, and reminded them that they have ready access to a network of fellow students and alumni whom they can turn to for advice on university life and jobs. The students were also informed of useful platforms like the NUS Centre for Future-ready Graduates and MENDAKI networking sessions. The alumni also encouraged the students to participate in as many extra-curricular programmes as possible, and shared on their experiences during overseas exchange, internships, winter and summer programmes, and study trips.

Submitted by Mr Muhammad Suhail (Arts and Social Sciences '19)
NUS Geography Majors Tea 2020
Inspiring Geographers Return to Their Alma Mater

Mr Alexius Yeo ('10) and Mr Sarabjeet Singh ('11) were special guests at the NUS Geography Majors Tea 2020 on 14 February to talk to students about their career achievements and to inspire them to follow their dreams. 

Just days before the event, Mr Singh had visited the Istana with his family where Singapore President Mdm Halimah Yacob (Law '78) presented him a gift for being a nominee of The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2019. As President of the Young Sikh Association in Singapore, Mr Singh was recognised for his Association’s work at building bridges between people of different ethnic groups in the community.

Mr Yeo's dream when he was a student was to plant more fruit trees and vegetables in Singapore, and that is exactly what he did upon commencement. He is now a permaculture practitioner and educator, and also the founder of Project 33, a project aimed at encouraging community gardeners to give away a third of their harvest. 

Around 50 students and faculty members attended the event, and over refreshments, asked the alumni further questions about their careers. Mr Singh summed up the event perfectly when he called it a “sweet and fruitful homecoming”.

Submitted by Associate Professor Chang Tou Chuang ('90)
NUS Alumni Melbourne Chapter Chinese New Year Celebrations
83 alumni in Melbourne gathered with their partners and children to celebrate the year of metal rat at I Love Dumplings Restaurant.

Dr Edna Yeo (Science '93), Chairperson of the Chapter, began the evening with a welcome address. During the event, a special award from NUS Alumni Relations was presented to Dr Ang Woo Sin (Dentistry '68) by Dr Yeo, in appreciation of his invaluable contributions as former Chairperson of the Chapter from 2016 to 2018. Dr Ang’s wife, Dr (Mrs) Ang Kuan Mee (Dentistry '68), was also presented with a bouquet of flowers for her contributions to the Chapter.

One of the Chapter's committee member, Mr Roland Tan (Engineering '00), gave a brief talk on the upcoming NUS Day of Service in September, and called for suggestions on how the Chapter can give back to the community on this meaningful day. 

In addition to a sumptuous dinner and catching up with old friends and making new ones, guests were serenaded with wonderful performances by Mr Raymond Wong (Building & Estate Management '81), Ms Violet Seet (Accounting '89) and her husband Mr Richard Seet (Engineering '87), Ms Juliet Koh (Education '73) and her husband Mr Alain Romary, Dr Quek Seng Lian (Medicine '65), Mr Raymond Wong (Building and Estate Management '81), Mr Arul Earnest (Arts '97) and Mr Yang Li (Architecture '97), Mr Shannon Tan (Arts '55) and his wife Mrs Zenaida Tan, and Mr Peter Koh (Science '87).

Submitted by Ms Surila R Chandra (Arts '92) Secretary, NUS Alumni Melbourne Chapter
Keeping the Music Alive
On February 5, the NUS Alumni Sing-Along (ASA) kick-started 2020 with a Lunar New Year Celebration.

As with the previous two years, members brought generous amounts of food for party’s menu. The dishes included local delights such as Yusheng, Chicken Rendang, Chicken Lemper, Hokkien Mee, and a wide range of desserts like jellies, fruits, kueh-kueh & cakes. Members sang along to old favourites while Office of Alumni Relations (OAR) guests Mr. Bernard Toh (Architecture '84) and Mr. Roystonn Loh (Arts and Social Sciences '13) performed with ASA guitarists. The party rounded off with a boisterous karaoke session.

Two days later, on the evening of February 7, Singapore raised its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level from Yellow to Orange. All ASA activities – sing-along & ukulele sessions - grounded to a halt. While patiently waiting for the time to come when they could gather again, some members started becoming restless while at home.

On Monday, March 30, some members of the ASA ukulele group came together to keep the music alive via weekly sessions on Zoom. Led by Dr. Lim Thou Tin (Business '81), members learned fingerstyle picking on their ukuleles. Over the weekly sessions, the fingerstyle melodies were combined with strumming and singing. Thanks to technology, members of the ASA are still able to connect, learn and have fun!

Submitted by Ms Joanna Loo (Science '91)

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