Afiqah Nur Fitri Binte Suhaiemi
As an aspiring leader interested in public policy and international economic and trade issues, Afiqah values the opportunities to make diverse connections and take on leadership roles at NUS. Rigorous training in her major of Economics, as well as exposure to broad perspectives through the University Scholars Programme and overseas programmes, will prepare her to meet future challenges with valuable skills and an open mind.
Afiqah gives back to the community and develops her leadership ability by being actively involved in service both within and outside of NUS. Whether through participation in the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme at University Town or as the only Singapore undergraduate selected to represent all youths in the Singapore50 (SG50) steering committee, Afiqah is gaining hands-on experience and real-world understanding of complex issues.
Why NUS ?
I think NUS has a lot to offer. You just need to decide what you want to do and you can find the opportunities that are aligned to your interests.
One good thing about going to a local uni is that you build local but diverse connections. At NUS, you meet all kinds of different people − with different majors and different interests − and this enriches your university experience.
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 and then go on to complete your own internship or project.
In addition, I am also a member of the Singapore50(SG50) steering committee. The SG50 Steering Committee is comprised of members from the public and private sector and is charged with guiding and planning Singapore's 50th Anniversary. As members, we bring our area of expertise and knowledge to the table to provide fruitful insights and discussions with regards to what makes an inclusive SG50 celebration, where everyone has not only an active role but a proactive role as well.
Economics at FASS
I like Economics and Mathematics so it was a very natural decision to major in Economics. This decision was also driven by my interest in public policy since I view Economics as a very important aspect of public policy.
The Economics syllabus at NUS is quite rigorous and puts emphasis on the mathematical foundations. There is a lot of econometrics work, which is very good because as an economist, the most marketable skill you have is the ability to analyse and make sense of numbers.
At NUS, I get to meet my fellow economic majors who are interested in various fields, as well as people who are into community and grassroots work and really know the society on the ground. Having the opportunity to listen to all of these perspectives on local issues helps me broaden my views.
Something great about being in NUS is that you get the best of both worlds. You get to see the world and be at home. Even though you are in a local univeristy, your experience is not restricted to Singapore. I hope to explore a different place every academic year.
In my first year, I went to Vietnam in December for a 2 ½ week community service project, Niem Vui Viet Nam (NVVN), which was open to both USP and non-USP students. There, we painted murals and taught students English. We also had a homestay for the duration of the trip in a village in Da Nang and it was very heartening but sad at the same time to see how attached to us the children and the homestay hosts became.
Later that same year in May, I went for a USP-GWU Twin City Dialogue on Human Resource Managment in Washington DC. It was a very interesting experience to be able to meet our counterparts from George Washington University. We learned a lot about the American education style and US human resource directors shared with us on the growing importance of proper human resource managament. In addition, we also got a day to tour Washington DC and visit all the Smithsonian museums, which were really impressive. The students from GWU also came to Singapore for a week and we visited companies based in Singapore such as ANZ and Gallup to learn about their human resource management. In addition, we brought them around Singapore and had them try out some local dishes.
In October 2013, I attended the ASEAN Future Leaders Summit, which was held in Penang and Hat Yai, Thailand. The year's theme was Business Leadership and Economic Development. In Penang, we had plenary sessions on different business models and the effectiveness of different leadership styles. Following which, we went to Hai Yai to visit a few village business start-ups. In our groups, we then discussed and proposed a sustainable business model that is viable for the villages.
In February 2014, I am attending the Princeton Interactive Crisis Simulation (PICSIM). A much more dynamic and fast-paced adaptation of model UN, this installment of PICSIM is focused on the Black Sea region, including the Caucasus regions, the Balkans and Turkey. This region of the world is especially interesting because of the complexity of their international, trade, historical and military relations. I am grateful to have the chance to train with my team and participate in this unique but challenging programme.
In Year 1, I took up a leadership position as Vice-President (House) of the University Scholars Club. Under this portfolio, I had to oversee the planning of the Freshmen Orientation Programme (FOP) and also make plans for the development of the House System, which was still in its infant stages. This included raising funds for our FOP during International Friendship Week and Valentine's Day, and managing the finances for inter-House events organised by the House Captains. This academic year, I'm helping out on the outreach side as an ambassador leader – we work very closely with our recruitment manager and recruit ambassadors, train them for outreach programmes, and plan our event lineup for Open Day.
One memorable USP module I have taken is Disasters and Responses, which really made me step out of my comfort zone even within economics. Professor Daly split us up into groups according to our majors – for example, all the engineers and artichects were made to plan rubble clearing and building of houses, and all the economics and business majors were assigned to work on economic recovery by injecting money into the economy. It was a really interesting way to conduct a lesson – using what you're good at, learning something new within your own fields and then applying to a given scenario.
Living at Cinammon College gives me more time to spend with my friends. I stay in a suite; it is very comforting to know that there is someone across from me who might still be awake in the wee hours of the night and trying to complete assignments as well. We even had a steamboat party once and sometimes we find ourselves just sitting outside and talking about random things like our childhood dreams and ambitions.
The facilities at UTown are quite convenient. I use the collaborative commons a lot, especially when I need to pull all-nighters or I need some quiet time alone. For group work, we usually prefer to use the lounges in Cinammon College since it is more convenient for us. I used the gym at the Stephen Riady Centre a lot especially during the haze period and even now I go when it rains and I am in need of a good run.
I play for USP in both the Inter-Faculty Games and the Inter-Collegiate games. Sometimes we play floorball or captains ball until very late, after which we may order supper and just hang out.
I have an economic service scholarship under the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), so after graduation I will be bonded to MTI for four years. After that, I think I would like to stay in the public sector and hopefully I'll get to work on not just local policies but more international economic and trade issues.
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