6 April 2018: Gone but not forgetful: Alumni keep in touch with the Yale-NUS community

By Kevin Low | Images as credited

The Class of 2017 alumni have embarked on the beginning of their careers or are navigating the avenues of further studies. But they have not forgotten their roots – many have returned to their alma mater to bring back some of the lessons from their experiences to the community.

Alumnus Michael James Anthony (left) and his brunch tag partner Beatrice Chew (Class of 2021). Image by Kevin Low.

 

On 28 January and 10 February, the Alumni Council organised the inaugural Alumni Brunch Tag event, a reference to the existing Lunch Tag tradition organised by the Dean of Students Office. At these events, alumni had the opportunity to be paired off with a current first-year student, and meet for an informal chat over brunch at the College’s dining halls.

Over the two days, close to 20 alumni were paired with a first-year student. Conversations ranged from discussions about the Common Curriculum to what life is like after graduation. Alumna Christina Ho said she enjoyed bonding with Fahrisa Islam Maisha (Class of 2021) over their plans for the future, and providing some insight on the origins of the Yale-NUS culture. “Many things have changed over the years, so I thought it might be nice for first-year students to put a face to the inaugural Class of 2017,” said Christina.

The Alumni Council organised this event because they recognised a gap in terms of communication and connection between the Class of 2017 and the Class of 2021. “The first four founding classes had at least some contact and shared experiences, and we thought it could be fun to extend the ‘founding family’ vibe to include the class of 2021,” said alumna Kei Franklin, one of the four members of the Alumni Council who spearheaded the event. “We hoped it could be fruitful to have alumni and the first-years learn from one another, and exchange thoughts, impressions, concerns and hopes for Yale-NUS.”

“It’s a great way for alumni to be connected to the school,” agreed Christina.

Alumnus Randy Yeo shares his Yale-NUS College experiences at the Open Day alumni panel. Image provided by the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

 

Alumni have also returned to contribute in a more formal setting. During the National University of Singapore (NUS) Open Day on 10 March, Yale-NUS College invited four alumni to sit on a discussion panel for prospective students and their parents. Held in the Black Box Theatre on campus, the panel was chaired by Samson Berhane, Manager in the Institutional Affairs department and a previous Dean’s Fellow of the College. The alumni shared how their experiences at Yale-NUS helped them figure out what they wanted to do at the start of their careers. Many panellists credited the Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE) for providing them opportunities to discover what their interests and passions were, and also for the invaluable support and connections the CIPE staff provided.

Philosophy major Randy Yeo told his story about how, through his CIPE internship, he had the opportunity to visit the Philippines where he was involved in helping business owners raise capital and grow their companies. He discovered he enjoyed the business aspects of his internship, and upon returning to Singapore, began taking Finance modules at NUS to prepare him with the skills he needed.

Tinesh Indrarajah shared how his overseas opportunity influenced his decision to enter public policy. He participated in a CIPE internship where he organised football tournaments in Cambodia and Vietnam. While he was living there, he realised that policy systems have a very direct impact on people’s lives. That realisation led to him applying for the Concurrent Degree Programme with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in his third year, and he is on track to graduate with a Masters in Public Policy in July 2018.

The panel also cautioned prospective students against the notion that CIPE would just automatically hand them a job. Tiffany Sin, a Physical Sciences major with a minor in Urban Studies, said, “That’s not how it works. You have to be proactive, and do your own research before consulting with CIPE.” Chua Yao Hui agreed, saying, “You have the opportunity to visit your CIPE career adviser weekly, and doing so will help them help you make informed decisions.”

When asked about the benefits of a liberal arts and sciences education at Yale-NUS College, most of the panellists spoke about the way it equipped them with the critical thinking skills necessary for the modern workplace. “The liberal arts and sciences education empowers you to be able to think, to be responsible, and most of all, to define your own version of success,” said Yao Hui, who originally intended to major in Economics before switching to Mathematical, Computational, and Statistical Sciences (MCS) after a year studying abroad at Harvard. Randy agreed. “It helps sharpen the way you think, and trains you to have the mind-set of structuring arguments and evidence for those arguments. Yale-NUS also helps you foster a sense of curiosity, to be open-minded about the world.”