Featured NUS Scholars

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Poh Yu Ting

   NUS Global Merit Scholarship

   Course: Bachelor of Arts in Arts and Social Sciences and University Scholars Programme

   From: Hwa Chong Junior College


1) Why did you choose the NUS Scholarship?

Even before the release of my ‘A’ Level results, I had been pondering over what scholarships to apply for as I wanted a scholarship which would be a good fit with my personality. Faced with so many available scholarships, I set out to list those which I could foresee myself in. I applied for 2 bonded scholarships (Changi Airport Group and Singapore Tourism Board) and 2 bond-free scholarships (NUS and NTU) and was awarded the NUS Global Merit Scholarship and NTU Nanyang Scholarship. I appreciated that the bond free scholarship allowed me to pursue my interests while providing me with ample opportunities to broaden my horizons. I was more hesitant about a bonded scholarship as I would prefer internship opportunities before taking that as my express vocation. The NUS Global Merit Scholarship also aided greatly in terms of providing financial support for residential college living under the University Scholars Programme (USP), as the costs of the room were covered and allowed me to pursue my interests in USP without any financial worries. The bond-free scholarship attracted me as I would have the freedom to explore what I wanted instead of making a decision at 19 years old. My JC experience has taught me that my interests could change drastically (from Triple Science in secondary school to Arts Stream in junior college) and I knew that the transformational university experience would mould me in ways I would not expect.

2) What was the selection process like?

Application for the NUS Scholarship was convenient and streamlined as I only had to submit one application to be considered for all 5 tiers of scholarships. There were 2 rounds of interview for the NUS Global Merit Scholarship. After the first round of scholarship interview with 3 professors on the panel, I was shortlisted for the second round shortly after. The second round comprised of 5 to 6 professors on the panel and it was definitely more stressful as tougher questions were posed. I was asked about my experience as a Zaobao columnist, the reason behind my unique subject combination in JC (China Studies in Chinese, Chinese Language and Literature, Economics, Mathematics, General Paper, Project Work and a H3 in CLL), what major I intended to pursue and why, what do I foresee myself doing in 5 to 10 years, why did I want to join the University Scholars Programme etc.

3) Why do you think you were awarded the scholarship, and what are the qualities that a scholar should possess?

Many outstanding students apply for the NUS Scholarship and I am truly blessed to have been awarded the NUS Global Merit Scholarship. I think that my unique portfolio stood out as I was engaged in leadership positions since secondary school, engaged in community work, held on to my passion and conviction strongly and also believed strongly in the importance of bilingualism. I have always believed that the most important quality of a scholar lies not in academics but a heart of gratitude that is willing to give back to society. For that reason, I have taken on the role of Community Service Deputy Director in the USP Committee and also volunteer weekly with NUS Community Service Club. I am very privileged to have the financial freedom to pursue what I want in university and this translates into more gratitude to serve the wider community who may not have the opportunities which I had been given. Be it giving back to NUS or the society, I believe that a scholar should always remember to give more than he or she takes.

4) What are the benefits of taking up the NUS Scholarship?

As an NUS scholar, I feel that I am privileged to go for many events as the Office of Admissions would inform us of certain key events and encourage us to participate. For example, scholars can tap on the NUS Scholars Enrichment Grant which subsidizes up to 50% of a programme's costs. Such programmes certainly help to broaden one's horizons while remaining financially affordable for the scholar. Through the University Scholars Programme, I will be going for a week long study programme in Iran and can apply for the grant to co-fund such programmes. Being in the University Scholars Programme and being an NUS Scholar have opened different channels of opportunities for me and I hope to make the best out of it in my university years.

5) How has your NUS experience been, and what programmes and activities have you participated in so far?

My NUS experience in the past semester has been truly amazing. Joining different camps and knowing different people has helped me to forge strong bonds with my friends. The USP community is very tight-knit and having been through Rag as a dancer and putting in countless hours for practice, the group of friends remains very close to my heart. I am involved in the USP Dance Interest Group as the Events Head and partake in several other Interest Groups such as USPella (Acapella Group) and Netball. Training for Inter Faculty Games with my USP mates has also allowed for the building of team dynamics. Regular activities like picnics and suppers organized by my USP House (Ianthe) also keeps me grounded to a group of people who are almost like family. With USP being such a small community, it allows for growth of an individual as we are always encouraged to join activities as long as we are interested and skills are merely a bonus, not a criterion. I signed up to be a USP Ambassador as I wanted to share my USP experience, because the academics and residential living have really benefitted me so much and in so many ways. Joining the USP Committees and taking up the role as Deputy Director for Community Service is also a key component in my past semester as I hope to spread the idea of community service to my peers. Working with like-minded and compassionate individuals in my committee has been a great experience and looking at ground-up initiatives with my peers has been truly heart-warming!

Chen Qijian

   NUS Undergraduate Scholarship

   Course: Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Science (Management), with the University Scholars    Programme

   From: Anderson Junior College


1. What was it about the Business Administration programme at NUS that appealed to you?

First of all, I wanted a business education that went beyond just teaching me the core business concepts. I wanted to learn how to think and analyse issues outside of the business context. More importantly, I wanted a multi-disciplinary education that would allow me to apply whatever I had learnt from one field to another. At that point in time, I thought the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) and the University Scholars Programme (USP) fitted the bill perfectly.

2. How do the lecturers inspire you and how does the programme encourage student to learn and improve?

Most of our lessons are conducted seminar style. I believe that as much as we are learning from the lecturers, we are learning from our peers as well. I feel that this style of learning is much more organic and it prompts us to think critically about the issues we are discussing, instead of just blindly accepting them. Moreover, I was very fortunate this semester to be blessed with some of the most caring educators I have ever met. My professors took the time to go over with me my strengths and weaknesses as well as improvements that I can make.

3. Are you active on campus? Tell us more about your involvements.

Living in the USP residential college (Cinnamon College), my friends are just a phone call away. We often have supper together despite our busy schedules, and take time out to be invested in each other’s life. As the vice marketing director for sponsorships for next year’s freshmen orientation program, I have been spending time with my team thinking about how we can attract and retain sponsors.

I believe that NUS offers so many opportunities for a vibrant campus life, that it is important to learn how to pace yourself so that you don’t burn out!

4. Were you considering other scholarships? Why did you choose the NUS Scholarship? What is the most attractive aspect of the scholarship?

I had a few choices between some local scholarships and an overseas scholarship. However, what tilted the balance was the lack of a bond and the educational opportunities that NUS offered me.

5. How does the NUS Business School and NUS Scholarship ensure that they are aligned with industry needs?

I find the NUS Business School is extremely relevant. The curriculum has been tailored to educate us not only in terms of knowledge but also in terms of the soft aspects that defines a transformational leader. Even though I have been in NUS for only one semester, I feel that I have become much more articulate as well as capable.

Being in the NUS Business School also exposes you to other exemplary individuals and I think it has also sparked off the entrepreneurial spirit inside me. I have had the opportunity to meet a few student entrepreneurs, and these meetings have changed some of my own perspectives.

6. Are you required to do internships as part of your degree programme? Tell us more about the overseas opportunities in your programme.

In December 2013, I managed to go on a Business School trip to Tokyo where I met numerous brilliant students from Todai. We met with various entrepreneurs in Japan, including the ex-chairman of Sony, and attended a number of business conferences.

We are technically not required to do internships. However the Business School Career Centre has been extremely helpful in sourcing for and informing us of multiple internship opportunities.

7. What do you think is the key value that the NUS Business School and the NUS Scholarship provide?

I think the key value is the availability of opportunities. The NUS Business School and the NUS Scholarship have opened up multiple avenues for me to develop not just as a businessman but as a person. The sheer multitude of opportunities out there makes it hard for me to even forecast how I would grow. But – “to be a better man” – is the key.

Felecia Tay Jing Yi

   NUS Undergraduate Scholarship

   Course: Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery

   From: NUS High School


1. Why did you choose the NUS Scholarship?

Studying Medicine has been a long-term aspiration of mine, and securing the scholarship provides an affirmation that NUS recognises and supports my endeavours, for which I am extremely grateful. As it would finance my education, I could focus better on my personal development in NUS.

2. What was the selection process like?

The scholarships selection process for Medicine is quite different from that of other faculties. In a nutshell, the top performing students who underwent the Medicine admissions assessments were selected for a second round of scholarship interviews. I went for the interview with an open mind and found it to be an enjoyable experience, as it was very much like a friendly chat with the professors to let them know more about me, my stories and my aspirations.

3. Why do you think you were awarded the scholarship, and what are the qualities that a scholar should possess?

I think that beyond the achievements and accolades, the interviewers were genuinely keen to understand me better as an individual, and I thought that my interview went favourably because I was comfortable in my own skin. As such, I was able to express myself effectively and let my passion naturally speak for itself. I believe that some essential qualities of a scholar include a vision to serve and positively impact his community, a strong sense of self-identity and direction, the willingness and ability to translate passion into action, and – of utmost importance – humility.

4. How has your NUS experience been, and what programmes and activities have you participated in so far? (E.g. University Town Residential Programme, Student Exchange Programme, CCAs)

University life in NUS is a refreshing transition from high school. There’s greater flexibility and freedom to pursue my interests, be it academically or beyond. I’m currently a part of Project Battambang, an overseas medical mission trip to Poipet, Cambodia. In the days leading up to the trip, we’ve been actively procuring funds for medical supplies and our Light a Dream Scholarship (LADS), which supports our Cambodian scholars in pursuing higher education. LADS is a unique feature that had originally drawn me to Project Battambang, as it is analogous to how NUS empowers its scholars through funding their studies. Alongside fellow members of the Sponsorship Committee, I helped to raise approximately S$1,800 in total revenue through fundraising sales. In a sense, I think of my contribution to LADS as my way of ‘paying it forward’ – to help a Cambodian student realise his dreams just like how NUS has done so for me.


A little more than a year ago, when she was preparing for her A-level examinations, Phoebe Lim was at a loss of words whenever there were family gatherings.


The 19-year-old explained: “My relatives kept asking me which course I intended to pursue and what scholarships I was going to apply for after my A levels.


“At that age, I believe most of us are quite clueless about what to go for. It is a crossroad of our lives, with many junctions to choose from. It can be a difficult decision.”


Eventually, Phoebe applied for the NUS Global Merit Scholarship (GMS). She picked the scholarship’s option to enrol in the into University Scholars Programme (USP), where she is now pursuing the Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) with a major in psychology and a minor in English language.

And she has not looked back since.


The NUS GMS is the leading freshmen scholarship award offered by the university to Singapore Citizen students who demonstrate finesse in academic results, intellectual capacity, character and leadership qualities, and a passion for creativity and innovation.


Besides tuition fees, there are annual living and accommodation allowances of $6,000 and $2,000 respectively. There is also a one-time S$2,000 computer allowance, which came in handy when Phoebe purchased her first MacBook.


The USP is an interdisciplinary academic programme that admits 180 students each year. Besides giving them the freedom to explore modules across disciplines, it also provides them with a wide range of extracurricular and overseas opportunities to develop their interests, and introduces them to a community of motivated and talented students.


The scholarship has not only lifted a financial load off Phoebe’s family, it also enabled her to pursue many enriching activities beyond curriculum hours.


“I used part of my living allowance to participate in a Youth Expedition Project to Vietnam last December, where we helped in the construction of houses for poor families. It was an incredibly priceless experience,” she recalled.


The scholarship also has a NUS GMS Enrichment Grant that sponsors scholars wishing to participate in local or overseas enrichment activities. Phoebe is applying for it to fund her trip to the annual Princeton Interactive Crisis Simulation Conference at the Princeton University campus this February.


“I’m very interested in International Relations, and this conference will be a great opportunity for me to learn more about it.”


The best part of the NUS GMS though, said Phoebe, is the absence of a bond.


“This is good for those who may not be sure of which industry or corporation they want to work in upon graduation,” she explained.


“For example, I was first interested in psychology as a subject before being attracted by speech therapy as a profession. I’m sure many people tend to be interested in an area of study first before making decisions about their career later on.


“This scholarship gives them the freedom to do just that.”