18 May 2018: From graduation to graduate school: Seniors pursue their passions through further studies

By Daryl Yang | Images by Yasunari Watanabe

While many Yale-NUS seniors prepare to head into diverse careers in the next chapter of their lives, some have decided to continue pursuing their academic interests.

After graduation, Sherice Ngaserin (Class of 2018, in photo below), a Philosophy major with a minor in Global Antiquity, will head to the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan to pursue a PhD in Philosophy.

“I was deciding between the Philosophy PhD programmes at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, the University of Toronto, and the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan. I accepted Michigan’s offer after my campus visits, and I’m looking forward to being there for the next seven years,” Sherice shared.

Reflecting on her interest in Greek and Indian Buddhist philosophy, she said that Yale-NUS “started me on philosophy”. Both Plato and Indian Buddhist Philosophy are offered as part of the Yale-NUS Common Curriculum, in a module called Philosophy & Political Thought.

“In a world that is often senseless in its violence and apathy, I see Plato and the Indian Buddhist philosophers as stellar examples of systematic thinkers who demand clarity and care in understanding the world and – most importantly – living within it,” she noted.

More than that, Sherice added that Yale-NUS has not only prepared her extensively for her next steps, but has very much defined them.

“Our faculty members have set a standard for doing philosophy across traditions, and doing it well. I’ve learned so much from their clarity and care, and I would never have discovered or sustained my interest in philosophy without them.”

Like Sherice, Tan Weiliang (Class of 2018, in photo below) will be heading to graduate school in the US. He will be pursuing a PhD in Applied Economics & Management at the Dyson School in Cornell University. A major in Environmental Studies, Weiliang also pursued a Minor in Economics at Yale-NUS College.

“I am interested in pursuing an academic career in environmental and agricultural economics and hope to integrate some of the concerns raised by the environmental social sciences and humanities into my economic models in future research,” Weiliang shared.

Attributing these interests to his multidisciplinary experience at Yale-NUS, Weiliang said that “the classes I’ve taken in Economics and Environmental Studies have helped me look at the field of environmental economics from both the inside and outside.”

For instance, he is interested to explore the idea of “degrowth” from environmental studies literature, which he believes is “really about expanding existing comprehensive wealth accounting models in natural resource economics”.

On why he decided to join the Dyson School at Cornell, Weiliang explained that it was a place with both scholars who focus on the theoretical as well as the applied. “I hope to combine theoretical and applied research by exploring micro-macro links as it relates to household preferences around different food items, and more broadly, leisure, consumption and labour. Hence, Dyson seemed like the right place for me.”

Both Weiliang and Sherice have been offered the Yale-NUS Overseas Graduate Scholarship (OGS), which is targeted at Singaporean Yale-NUS graduates who are pursuing a PhD at top-ranked international graduate programmes.

On taking up the scholarship, Sherice said, “Being around peers who are equally committed to making the most of their college years, faculty who are genuinely invested in my academic improvement and personal growth, and dedicated staff at the Centre for International & Professional Experience and the Centre for Teaching and Learning who went out of their way to make my unique pursuits possible made all the difference in transforming a cursory interest in some of my Common Curriculum readings into a long-term project that is not only academically stimulating, but also deeply transformative on a personal level. I am not ready to leave the community that made this possible, and staying connected to the College as a scholar is my way of continuing to be an active part of this community even while I am halfway across the world.” Upon completion of the PhD, scholars may be appointed as postdoctoral fellows at Yale-NUS.

Sarah Novak (Class of 2018, in photo below) is also headed to graduate school though she has yet to make a decision on where exactly she will be going.

“I’m currently considering two offers for Masters programmes at Oxford University and Cambridge University, both of which are in the realm of environmental policy and politics. I am really excited and grateful to be in a position to decide between two such fantastic programmes,” she shared.

Majoring in Politics, Philosophy & Economics (PPE), Sarah said that she hopes to build on the knowledge gained from her undergraduate studies in graduate school to better prepare herself for her future pursuits in the public sector.

“As incredible as my undergraduate experience at Yale-NUS has been, I leave here with a strong desire to further my knowledge in a field I am passionate about, and to build on some of my research experiences. Going into a career in or related to the public sector, I would like to be as fully informed about the field as I can to make a meaningful and effective impact. I see graduate studies as the best way for me to achieve that.”

Echoing Weiliang, Sarah shared that she is very grateful to Yale-NUS for giving her an interdisciplinary and internationally-focused education.

“The complexity of social and environmental challenges today means that the future of environmental policymaking – and any policymaking – must be informed by multiple disciplinary perspectives and a global mindset. I think that I go into my graduate studies with a portfolio of skills and perspectives that will allow me to address these challenges creatively and effectively,” she added.

As the countdown to graduation draws nearer, Sarah reflected that something she will miss about Yale-NUS is the community and its people.

“Yale-NUS has been the most supportive, enthusiastic, and creative community I have had the privilege to be a part of, and I constantly feel inspired to do better because of the people I am surrounded by. I hope to take this spirit of kindness and community forward into the institutions that I become a part of in the future.”

Reflecting on her favourite memory of Yale-NUS, Sherice shared that it is the time she spends with her suitemates at their regular yong tau foo (a Chinese Hakka tofu dish) outings.

“They embody the infinite patience of bodhisattvas in waiting for me to finish eating my meals,” she quipped.