As an aspiring leader interested in educating the future of our country, David values the opportunities to make diverse connections and give back to the community. The rigorous training in his major of Economics, as well as exposure during his exchange programme experiences, will prepare him to meet challenges with an open mind and help those who need it the most.
Coming from humble beginnings, David’s tenacity to learn has helped him become the first Normal (Technical) student to qualify for a Junior College in 2006 and receive a teaching scholarship from the Ministry of Education (MOE). David also gives back to the community by pioneering programmes to mentor disadvantaged youths, so that they will be motivated to achieve their goals like he did.
Be it the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme at University Town or Gobi Globe Trekker at Tembusu College, David hopes that an education at NUS will help him open his eyes to the world, and enable him to foster the same ethic in his students thereafter.
Why NUS ?
When I was considering life after JC, I came across the programme offered at Tembusu College. The liberal style of education and flexibility to decide what you want to do were the factors that made me choose NUS.
I personally value my university education as an opportunity to learn, and a springboard to grasp the real-world issues we face. It is not just about the grades; at the end of the day, we will still graduate with a degree. Rather, I wanted to leverage on multidisciplinary learning, and learn holistically. Given how contemporary concerns and questions are broad-based and hardly situated in a singular field, pursuing various branches of learning seems to be the way to go in achieving an integrated understanding of these issues. The plethora of views afforded by different disciplines contribute to learning too, as they constantly push the breadth of our knowledge.
If you make your comparisons, there’s not much room for doubt that NUS as Singapore’s largest comprehensive university gives you a multitude of options for a broad-based, holistic education.
Leadership and Community Service
I’m in the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme at UTown. Under this programme, you take modules that hone your ability to think critically about community development efforts. It also accords you the flexibility to partake in modules from other disciplines or programmes, such as the University Scholars’ Programme. You can go on to pioneer your own community project too! Through this programme, I worked with Assumption Pathway School to mentor at-risk youths by engaging them in one-on-one sessions and group activities. This opportunity has certainly given me the best of both worlds.
Economics at FASS
The rigour and extensiveness of Economics modules taught by extremely competent professors in their respective sub-fields drew me to NUS. As I knew that I would be an educator upon graduation, I wanted to surround myself with the best so that I could learn from them, and thereafter share my knowledge to my future students. The beauty of Economics lies in its blend of qualitative and quantitative traits, in its approach to solving real-world problems.
The way of living and learning in Tembusu College attracted me to NUS too. I wanted an education that could evoke my active learning capabilities and critical sense. Hence, I liked the seminar style of teaching, and the distinctive nature of a residential college-based curriculum. Through the programme, I got inspired to do more for people who had similar aspirations like me. It gave me room to found and establish different mentoring programs. I started a five-month programme which involved Tembusu students mentoring their younger counterparts in New Town Secondary School – just across the road. Other than giving back to society through mentoring, I wanted to change the paradigm of my peers, in understanding the different social demographics of students in Singapore. Not only do we end up helping the students; but they help us to better understand society-at-large too. Often, these insights lie just beyond our own respective social circles.
Step Up programme
This is a reading programme in collaboration with Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, which happens every Wednesday. NUS students will take a bus, chartered by ST Pocket Money Fund, to Jurong Family service centre to read to underprivileged kids.
Tembusu Globe Trekkers
I took part in the Gobi Desert March, which was a 250km trek over six days in the Gobi Dessert. We helped to raise over $100,000 for the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. To me, a university education is more than just going attending lectures and tutorials, but also expanding our capacity to contribute back to the community. It’s also a time when we should challenge ourselves to stretch our limits.
I attended Harvard University, and spent a semester at Mexico in Tec de Monterrey. Even though I knew I would be the only Singaporean who went to Mexico then, this didn’t stop me. My objective was to embark upon the path less travelled, and live the way the locals did, while learning from them. On top of that, I wanted to glean first-hand experience in living in a developing country for a substantial period of time. That’s why I gave Mexico a chance, even though I had no knowledge of Spanish prior. While I felt pretty much in the deep and only just survived for the semester, I had the opportunity to take Spanish classes and a medical consultancy internship. I think there exists many opportunities for all of us, but we need to be pro-active and seize them, to maximize our learning and add to our depth of experiences.
Motivation to achieve your goals
The path I took was not easy. I’m not born smart, but I have learnt that if I compensate with diligence and willingness to learn, I can make it through. As long as you work hard, you will live without regrets. NUS has given me a room to learn, and developed my love for learning. Unlike my secondary school and JC days, it is not merely about grades. By taking many modules that I might not naturally excel in, this has taught me to step out of my comfort zone to pursue learning; opened my mind to new perspectives; and embark on opportunities to discover things that might interest me. What I do love about a degree from FASS is that I get to tailor my learning.
To Prospective Students
If you want to learn, NUS is the place to be. It is a place that gives you maximum exposure, and there are many choices you’ll have to make (often too many at times!). Of course, to make full use of this, you need to be initiated, to pursue what you want to achieve from a university education. Opportunities are always present – academic pathways or otherwise. It is up to you to make full use of it.
Hopes as a future teacher
I want my students to value learning, and learn what would be applicable to the real world. The classroom is a sandbox where you can open up the eyes to the world in a controlled environment, and yet take the opportunity to pursue the new and novel. I want my students to foster such active learning when they are young. That is what university has done for me, and I hence hope to do the same for my students in the future. With or without a professor, you can study. But only a teacher can develop young students with skills needed for university. I hope to pass this on.
For more information, visit Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences