9 February 2018: Yale-NUS scholarship holders to start careers in public service and public policy

By Daryl Yang | Images by Yasunari Watanabe

Felicia Soh (left) and Cheryl Cosslett (right)

As the Yale-NUS Class of 2018 counts down to graduation in May 2018, one student is readying herself for a career as a uniformed police officer with the Singapore Police Force.

Felicia Soh (Class of 2018) is a Ministry of Home Affairs scholar and will be pursuing a career in the Singapore Civil Service after graduation.

On why she decided to take up the scholarship, Felicia explained that she wanted the opportunity to learn more about Singapore through “spending time in the heartlands and learning the problems prevalent in the country”.

Students like Felicia receive scholarships from the Singapore Government to fund their tertiary education with a career in the public sector awaiting them after their graduation.

A Literature major, Felicia shared that the diverse environment at Yale-NUS has helped her prepare for her future career.

“Being in an environment with so much diversity, it is very common to encounter an individual with opinions vastly different from mine. Learning to be confident of my own opinions while understanding new perspectives will help me in coming up with creative solutions and making firm decisions in my future career,” she said.

Another government scholarship holder is Seow Yongzhi (Class of 2018, photo below). A Ministry of Education scholar, he will be slated to teach at a local school after completing his training at the National Institute of Education.

Yongzhi decided to take up the scholarship after a three-month stint as a relief teacher.

“Teachers have a dual affective and academic role: they seek to mould students’ values and develop a solid epistemological foundation for future intellectual pursuits. To fulfil the academic role, teachers have to be able to deliver lessons that are engaging and easily comprehensible,” he shared.

“The scholarship meets many of my interests: it secures me with a career path that I want to pursue, it covers my tuition which my family could not have comfortably afforded, and it connects me with a lively network of like-minded peers, aspiring educators, and future colleagues already with the service.”

A Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) major, Yongzhi believes that his Yale-NUS education has equipped him to fulfil the dual roles of a teacher.

“The broad-based curriculum ranging from great works in philosophy and literature, to the training of quantitative skills, equips me with the skills to apprehend the core content to be taught, and to draw out relevance to other disciplines,” he explained.

Gin Ong (Class of 2018, photo below), is another student headed for a career in the public service as a recipient of the prestigious Public Service Commission (Public Administration) Scholarship. As she is not bonded with any particular government ministry, Gin will be rotated to work in different government ministries upon graduation.

“I hope to contribute towards making Singapore a more knowledge-intensive and innovative economy, and work in a role that would involve a high degree of data analytics to inform decisions, such as the National Research Foundation and Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech),” said Gin who is majoring in Mathematical, Computational and Statistical Sciences (MCS) with a focus on the Mathematics pathway.

“A Smart Nation cannot happen without data science, and I believe that we need people possessing strong technical knowledge in policy work to inform the development of policies and strategies such that the right decisions can be made and the appropriate initiatives adopted,” she added.

On why she decided to pursue a major in MCS, Gin shared that she was “enthralled by the beauty of Mathematics” and also inspired by her professors such as Professor of Science (Mathematics) Jon Berrick.

“I think that my greatest achievement at Yale-NUS was persevering through my one-on-one Galois Theory class with Professor Berrick. There were many times when I lost faith in my abilities and thought about giving up, but I am very grateful to Professor Berrick for his patience and kindness in guiding me throughout the whole process,” she added.

The Singapore Government also offers ASEAN Scholarships to students from the other nine countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to study in Singapore. Cheryl Cosslett (Class of 2018), who hails from Indonesia, is one of several Yale-NUS students who has received this scholarship to fund her Yale-NUS education.

“It has been a privilege to pursue my education as a scholar, which has made me more aware of the kind of expectations and effort I should put into my learning and experience here, precisely as a way to make use of this privilege I’ve been given,” Cheryl said.

While she will not be joining the public service, Cheryl will be pursuing a career intimately connected with government and policy.

“I will join Vriens & Partners after graduation, an advisory firm that specialises in government relations and political risk analysis in Southeast Asia. The relevance to my studies and to my interest in the region particularly appealed to me,” she added.

Cheryl is grateful to the Centre for International & Professional Experiences (CIPE) for its help with her career search process. She shared, “I first learned of the firm through my CIPE adviser Paul Wilt, who introduced me to the concept of government relations and the risk industry at large. I also had the chance to intern there to really understand about the work that they do.”

Having spent two summers in Morocco and Spain and a semester abroad at Leiden University in the Netherlands, Cheryl also noted that the travel opportunities she had in college have expanded her knowledge and perspectives.

“My academic focus on Southeast Asia as a region has benefited from cross-country comparisons based on my encounters abroad. Applying my real-life experiences of different communities to the theory I read about and in-class discussions during seminars have also been humbling and exciting,” she shared.

Even though she has had many unforgettable experiences over the past four years, Cheryl shared that her favourite memory about Yale-NUS is all the times she would “casually discuss migration theory and intellectual property law — all with the same group of friends.”

Like Cheryl, Felicia also reflected that what she would miss the most would be her group of friends who “come from different parts of the world, and would be dispersed to different places post-graduation, as they embark on amazing ventures”.