Graduates from the Class of 2021 prepare for a diverse array of careers

25 May 2021

By Billy Tran

We have once again reached that time of the year where we say goodbye to our graduating seniors. The diversity of experiences that Yale-NUS students undergo during their time on campus is reflected in the varied career paths that they have chosen. Some graduating seniors share their future career plans which span the private sector, public sector, and even their own start-up.

Low Yi Ern (Class of 2021). Photo provided by Yi Ern.

Entering the private sector, Low Yi Ern (Class of 2021) will be joining Goldman Sachs as a Business Partner in its Human Capital Management team. Explaining her reason for taking on the role, she said, “I find it fulfilling to be able to see someone throughout their journey of growth. I believe that this role provides the opportunity for me to empower others and positively influence the culture of any company.”

Although her major in Global Affairs is not directly related to her future line of work, she felt that it has both broadened her world view and equipped her with the necessary skills to critically examine complex issues. Aside from academics, she was also a part of the Student Government as Director of Student Organisations and worked as a Student Associate for the Dean of Students’ Office.

“My experiences in Yale-NUS have inspired me to pursue a people centric career. I love meeting new people and I’m passionate about creating an environment where people feel valued and welcomed,” Yi Ern said.

Keith Yap (Class of 2021). Photo provided by Keith.

For Keith Yap (Class of 2021), he spent a total of five years in the Concurrent Degree Programme (CDP) with Yale-NUS College and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. After graduating, he will be joining Enterprise Singapore, a government agency championing enterprise development in Singapore.

Keith will join the agency’s Management Associate Programme, a one-year structured programme that gives him first-hand exposure to the entrepreneurial landscape in various local and overseas markets.

In Yale-NUS College, he majored in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) and minored in Chinese Studies. Looking back, he credits his education at both schools in the CDP for helping him prepare for his future career. “My time at Yale-NUS taught me how to be a critical thinker and a clear communicator, while the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy helped me understand the policymaking space better before entering public service,” he said. “I decided to take the path of public service because I want to serve Singapore and contribute to its development,” Keith shared.

Photo of Chris Lis (left) and Sofia Sigal-Passeck (right) (both Class of 2021), taken before the implementation of COVID-19 safe management measures. Photo provided by Chris and Sofia.

Sofia Sigal-Passeck and Chris Lis (both Class of 2021), who majored in Life Sciences and Mathematical, Computational, and Statistical Sciences respectively, joined forces to create Uniphage, their own biotech start-up. Uniphage uses deep learning to revolutionise the way bacterial virus-based solutions are produced by making the virus selection process significantly more efficient, robust, and quick.

Uniphage is a part of multiple competitions and programmes, including the Panacea Stars Accelerator at Oxford, The Hangar by NUS Enterprise, ImagineIF Hong Kong Accelerator, and Global Hult Prize Accelerator. Sofia and Chris have also presented at conferences, including the Global Bioeconomy Summit and the Boston-based Bacteriophage Therapy Summit.

Post-graduation, they will continue to work on their start-up and its development. “We aim to be able to produce antibacterial solutions within weeks, as opposed to years or even decades, which is the present-day reality,” they shared.

The skills and experiences they have had throughout their four years at the College have helped prepare them for the future. For Sofia, she had been involved in various biology projects at both Yale-NUS and the National University of Singapore (NUS), as well as participated in external summer research projects such as the Angem Scholars Programme. “These experiences have taught me how to think like a scientist and significantly contribute to Uniphage’s research and development,” she said.

Meanwhile, on the entrepreneurial side, Chris participated in NUS Overseas Colleges, an entrepreneurship-oriented work-study abroad programme. “I spent a year, cut short by COVID-19, in the San Francisco Bay Area working at a start-up as a data scientist while taking graduate-level courses at Stanford University,” he shared.

Although it may be challenging, the pair are determined to pursue the entrepreneurial path. Giving advice to future students who might be considering their own start-ups, they shared, “It’s honestly a painful path to pursue, but it is extremely rewarding and learning intensive. It’s key to have great co-founders with whom you can go through fire and water with.”