21 July 2017: Dean’s Fellows: Guides and mentors for Yale-NUS students

By Jeannie Tay | Image by Julian Low

Over summer, nine Dean’s Fellows (DFs) checked into Yale-NUS College and dived into intensive training as they geared up to take on their roles as guides, mentors and advisors for Yale-NUS students.

At Yale-NUS, DFs serve as role models for students while contributing to the development of the College’s programmes and initiatives. Started since Academic Year 2013/2014, the DF programme is now into its fifth year, and continues to play a pivotal role in advising and empowering students to develop their own initiatives while also mentoring them as they navigate the changes and challenges inherent to a growing and evolving community.

This year, the group of DFs comprises a mix of new and returning DFs, hailing from different nationalities and backgrounds, and each bringing with them unique experiences to add to the diversity of the College community.

For the first time, the College’s very own graduate will be taking on the DF role.

Chris Tee, a graduate from the pioneer batch, has chosen to return to the College, a place he has called home for the past four years – this time as a mentor to his juniors.

On re-joining the Yale-NUS family as a staff member, Chris said, “I hope to continue to contribute to the school which has given me so much in terms of stretching me academically and making me go beyond my comfort zone through extracurricular or experiential learning. I feel being a member of the inaugural class puts me in a unique position as a source of support for subsequent classes because I faced those same challenges just a year or two before them.”

Chris’ decision to become a DF was partly inspired by the previous DFs who have made a mark in his student life. “I look up to former DFs like Fiona Pay (AY2013/2014), Caroline Manela (AY2014-2016) and Salman Safir (AY2016/2017) for their generosity with their time and energy in meeting students one-on-one, and also how they conducted themselves in professional settings. Having talked to them before taking on this role, I appreciate their honesty in sharing their experiences and making sure that I knew what I was getting into and the difficulties that I might face as a Yale-NUS student transitioning into a Yale-NUS staff member.”

Besides Chris, some of the DFs are already familiar faces in the College as they will be continuing in their roles for another academic year. One of them is Julmar Carcedo, who said, “I’ve decided to stay on as a Dean’s Fellow because of the students here at Yale-NUS. The students genuinely care about the development of their college, and one year with them was not enough.  I want to make a greater impact to this community.”

Among the new DFs includes Courtney Carter, a recent graduate from Haverford College, Pennsylvania, US. Even though she has never been to Singapore, she is intrigued by the prospect of being part of this young college and looks forward to meeting like-minded people with the same adventurous spirit as her. Courtney is passionate about being part of the residential life community at Yale-NUS and hopes to explore opportunities to help students through programmatic and one-on-one support. “In my role, I hope to be able to help students make their own decisions and feel empowered by the College, and hopefully, also by me.”

When the DF programme first started in 2013, the DF role existed to help fill the gap of not having any upperclass students at the newly set up college. Over time, and especially with the graduation of the pioneer batch in May 2017, the DF programme has shifted to focus on supporting the upperclass students (sophomore, junior, senior) in an intentional and structured way.

Elaborating on the new focus, Andrew McGeehan, Senior Manager, Residential Life, said, “Each DF will be involved in creating intentional programming for a specific class year, which means a DF who is assigned to sophomores, for example, will work to create intentional programming that supports sophomores at their stage of development. DFs will think critically about the needs of the students and then tailor their support and programming accordingly.”

For the first time also, the DFs will be involved in the teaching of a new first-year module called Transitions – Understanding College and College Life. An optional elective module taught by the Vice Rectors of the three residential colleges, the course will focus on transitioning to college and life skills that are necessary for students to succeed and thrive. Among the topics covered include goal setting, time management, understanding learning styles and study tips. Students further their learning by meeting up with the DFs outside of class time.

With the new semester starting in less than a month’s time, the DFs are looking forward to meet the students and get started in their roles. Julmar has some tips to share with the students, “Maximise your time here at Yale-NUS. Practise civic engagement. Speak up for what you think is right. Challenge other people’s ideas and yours. Stretch yourself while you’re in a safe, supportive place.”


Click here to read the Dean’s Fellows’ bios.