25 January 2019: Supporting students in the pursuit of their passions

By Yip Jie Ying

Santander Scholarship recipients. Image by Bozy Lu.

When Wai Zi Ying (Class of 2022) was considering her college options last year, she was drawn to the dynamic energy of the Yale-NUS College community. During the Experience Yale-NUS Weekend, where she was invited to campus for a taste of what life at Yale-NUS would be like, the enthusiasm that students had about pursuing their passions, along with the support from the school to enable them to do so, appealed to her.

When she enrolled in Yale-NUS soon after, one example of such support came in the form of the Santander Scholarship – a four-year, merit-based scholarship established by international bank Banco Santander. Zi Ying is a recipient of this scholarship, alongside Rebeca Salazar (Class of 2019) and Adolfo Castro Dominguez (Class of 2020).

With the aid of the scholarship, Zi Ying has been able to pursue her varied interests both in and outside of the classroom. “The financial support provided by the scholarship has allowed me to embark on invaluable learning opportunities in Yale-NUS,” she said, as she recounted some highlights of her first semester at the College, ranging from academic explorations through the interdisciplinary Common Curriculum and her Week 7 Learning Across Boundaries study trip to the United Kingdom, a flagship programme where first-year students participate in experiential projects organised by Yale-NUS faculty. She was also able to challenge herself physically and mentally when she climbed Mount Kerinci, an active volcano located in West Sumatra, with the Good Ol’ Yale-NUS Adventure Club (GOYAC), a student organisation that she is involved with.

Zi Ying (fourth from left) with her Residential College Advisory (RCA) group mates in the Saga Common Lounge on campus.

Such opportunities have motivated Zi Ying to contribute to the larger community outside of Yale-NUS. Every weekend, she dedicates her time to tutoring low-income students in mathematics.

“In these sessions, I hope to not only supplement [the students’] learning, but also to make knowledge beyond the classroom more accessible to them, just as Yale-NUS has done for me,” she shared. “More importantly, I hope to encourage their love for learning, which is something the activities in school have inspired in me.”

Adolfo likewise credited the College for providing him with many opportunities to realise his dreams. A wildlife conservation enthusiast since young, he was able to further explore his interests with the College’s support despite being based in Singapore’s urban environment.

Adolfo (first on left) enjoys a meal with his schoolmates in a sky garden.

In his second year, Adolfo embarked on a semester abroad programme in Tanzania where he studied wildlife conservation and political ecology, topics that he would otherwise not have been able to pursue in Singapore. This has since become one of the key highlights of his time at Yale-NUS thus far. Aside from these, Adolfo was able to enjoy various other memorable experiences, such as participating in a conference on conservation in Southeast Asia, held in Thailand last semester, as well as trips to Indonesia and India during his first year at college, all of which furthered his long-standing interest in wildlife conservation.

“What I really like about Yale-NUS is how it creates other avenues to fill in some of the gaps that a small college is not always able to provide,” said the third-year Environmental Studies major.

For Rebeca, being part of an intimate college in Asia did not stop her from having a global education.  Now a senior in her final semester of college, Rebeca shared that one of the biggest takeaways from her Yale-NUS experience was the chance to meet and communicate with people from all around the world, right here on campus where there are students from 66 countries.

Rebeca (front row, third from right) with her RCA Group – affectionately called The TimeMasters – during First Year Assembly 2017.

“The best thing about being in Yale-NUS has been learning how to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures. This has encouraged me to become more open-minded and critical, as well thankful and proud of my own cultural heritage,” said the Salvadoran, who is a Spanish peer tutor on campus and part of the Hispanic Students Association. Through organising activities, she was able to share more about Hispanic culture with the community.

Armed with strong interpersonal skills, Rebeca also took on the role of Residential College Advisor, where she mentored first-year students as well as planned workshops and activities for the residential community in Saga College.

Buoyed by the support of the Santander Scholarship, students like Zi Ying, Rebeca and Adolfo have been able to pursue their college education as well as their passions to the fullest at Yale-NUS. This has been made possible due to the generosity of Banco Santander, one of the College’s founding benefactors. In addition to the Santander Scholarship, the bank has also supported students embarking on overseas language and cultural immersion programmes through the Santander International Experience Scholarship.