6 August 2019: New batch of RCAs and DFs ready to welcome Yale-NUS students for the academic year

By Chloe Lim

The Dean’s Fellows for AY 2019/2020 together with Yale-NUS Associate Director of Residential Education, Andrew McGeehan (back row, far right). Image by Ashley Yong/Yale-NUS College.

At Yale-NUS College, student residential experience is supported by various members of the College community. In the front lines are the Dean’s Fellows (DFs) and Residential College Advisors (RCAs).

This summer, the incoming batch of DFs and RCAs underwent an intensive training programme to become exemplary advisors and role models, well-equipped with the skills needed to support the Yale-NUS student community.

The DF programme was incepted in Academic Year (AY) 2013/2014 to complement the existing residential support for the Yale-NUS student body. As staff members, DFs serve as role models for students while contributing to the development of the College’s programmes and initiatives. In addition, they undertake an associate position tied to one of the various offices in the College. DFs are pivotal in cultivating interconnectedness amongst students and intercultural bonding in a diverse community like Yale-NUS.

Every academic year, Yale-NUS welcomes DFs from Singapore and many different parts of the world. The current cohort of nine DFs hail from places such as Canada, Malaysia, the Philippines, the United States, and Singapore. Among the new DFs are Sankar Ananthanarayanan, recent graduate of the National University of Singapore (NUS), where he studied Life Sciences, and Vrindavana Lila Spencer, who graduated from Quest University Canada.

Sankar shared that his work as a residential assistant during his college years greatly inspired him to become a DF, as he thoroughly enjoyed interacting with students and found it a “meaningful experience”.

“As a DF, I hope to help create a space for students to feel comfortable expressing themselves in writing, speech and other media,” he said. Sankar will also be an associate at the Writer’s Centre.

For Vrindavana, her passion for community-building and background in designing mentorship programmes, organisational development and college residence life, led her to take on the position of a DF.

“Some striking problems in student life are that of challenging concepts of identities and high stress in seeking belonging in community”, she said. “As such, I wish to support and build the emotional resilience of students and help them find their interests and passions, and enable them to explore their identities freely.”

One of the returning DFs this year is Sheena Diong, who joined the College in AY 2018/2019. As a returning DF, Sheena is excited to continue to build relationships with students and the rest of the community.

“As someone that is passionate about supporting students in finding their community here on campus, I am looking forward to be a part of more amazing programmes that help students foster their personal growth and development during their time here at Yale-NUS,” she said.

The RCAs for AY 2019/2020. Image by Joshua Wong/Yale-NUS College.

The work of the DFs at Yale-NUS is complemented by Residential College Advisors (RCAs), a group of students that provides focused support to first-year students. RCAs serve as a student support system to the first-year cohort on all academic and wellness programmes at Yale-NUS. Each RCA is assigned a group of first-year students to whom they provide focused support and assistance in adjusting to college life. There are a total of 20 RCAs this year, split across Yale-NUS’ three residential colleges.

Among the RCAs for the coming year is Erica Tai (Class of 2020), of Elm College. Her personal experience as a first-year student entering college three years ago had an impact on her decision to become an RCA. “For me, transitioning into college was a challenging and extremely overwhelming process,” she shared. “My DF was an essential source of support during this time. His dedication and care kept me in Yale-NUS. I am an RCA today in the hope that I can be that person for another first-year student, if they need me.”

The Psychology major believes that it is most important to be approachable as an RCA. “I want to be an RCA who listens; whether it is about their day, celebrating triumphs big and small, or sharing their highs and lows,” added Erica.

Similarly, Khang Huynh (Class of 2020), from Saga College, sees the importance in taking the time to share the concerns and struggles that the incoming batch of first-years might have. “I believe that to be a good advisor, one must be a good listener,” he said. To him, patience and dedication is integral for RCAs to ensure a “safe and nurturing support structure for students here at Yale-NUS”.

Serving as an Admission Office Student Associate as well, Khang shared that he is excited that his role as an RCA gives him the opportunity to interact with more members of the Yale-NUS community.

“I am very happy interacting and connecting with new members of the community every year, and feel that I will have a lot to learn from the incoming first-years too,” he shared.

Last but not least, Carson Huang (Class of 2020) of Cendana College spoke for many of the RCAs in sharing that giving back to the school has been a joy for him. Carson was previously an Orientation Group Leader (OGL) in his sophomore year at Yale-NUS, exemplifying his desire to pay it forward. “I’ve always had a concept of serving, especially in a community like Yale-NUS that has given me so much,” he said.

“Being able to induct new members into our community and show them why I love this college is something that I would like to pass on,” he added.