2 July 2021
By Daniel Lee
Every year, the National University of Singapore (NUS) recognises outstanding community members through the awarding of various medals and prizes. This year was no different, and three Yale-NUS College graduates from the Class of 2021 were honoured for their achievements and contributions to the community.
Representing the Bachelor of Arts with Honours and Bachelor of Science with Honours respectively, Nguyen Huu Bao Chau and Ian Kendall Duncan (both from Class of 2021) were awarded the Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) Gold Medal for being the best performing graduates in their respective disciplines.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours, Joshua Tay En Han (Class of 2021) was the recipient of the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS) Medal for Outstanding Achievement for achieving academic excellence and making significant leadership contributions and service to the community.
While all three graduates were surprised by their win, they credited the College and their loved ones for contributing to their achievements.
Chau (Class of 2021) hopes to expand on her capstone research for publication in a journal. Image provided by Chau Nguyen.
Chau, an Economics major, said that she was grateful towards her Yale-NUS peers and faculty who greatly inspired her during her time at the College.
“The peer tutors I worked with always helped me clear any confusion I had, and gave me invaluable advice. I also could not have done this without my professors. They were friendly, caring, and extremely knowledgeable; the small class size and intimate teaching experience that Yale-NUS offered allowed me to have a lot of one-on-one time with faculty members and really solidified my understanding of various topics of interest,” she added.
Similar to Chau, Ian, a Mathematical, Computational and Statistical Sciences (MCSS) major, shared that his achievements were shaped by the College faculty and his Yale-NUS experience.
Ian (Class of 2021) who is now a software engineer, initially pursued a liberal arts education to build a broad foundation of knowledge and explore the connections between ideas. Image provided by Ian Duncan.
“My professors encouraged me to go beyond course syllabi to explore and always rewarded my efforts. I had many opportunities to use knowledge acquired in one course to enrich discussions, papers, and projects in other courses I took. This was incredibly exciting for me because it represented a true validation of the liberal arts model, and gave me the motivation to try hard and do well,” he said.
Ian also expressed his gratitude to his friends and family for his achievements.
“They were excited when I told them the news, and I cannot thank them enough. There have definitely been difficult moments during my four years as a Yale-NUS student, and I wouldn’t have been able to make it through without their help,” he added.
Joshua remarked that the award was “an encouraging reminder that ordinary acts of faithfulness, stretched out over time and refined with the support of many, can amount to something ‘outstanding’”.
Reflecting on his four years at the College, Joshua, a Philosophy, Politics and Ecnomics (PPE) major, shared that he gained many valuable skills.
“I came to recognise how little I actually know, and then to approach my ignorance from varied perspectives. This is super useful, especially in my line of work that directly navigates complex circumstances and unique persons,” he shared.
Joshua (Class of 2021) works with his Yale-NUS peers – Jay Ong (Class of 2021) and Stefan Liew (Class of 2022) – at Impart, a non-profit organisation that seeks to shape the social impact sector and empower youths. Image provided by Joshua Tay.
Beyond College life, Joshua, who co-founded and currently serves as the Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Impart, hopes to continue contributing to the society at large.
“It is one thing to give back to communities facing adversities. It is another to be a part of these communities and grow things together. We’ve been able to participate in the latter: in terms of our operational work concerning youth development and our organisational work concerning partnerships and sectoral growth,” he said.
He further elaborated that without the contribution of the community around him – from staff to professors and peers alike – his efforts would not have come to fruition.
For Chau and Ian, winning the awards also marked the beginning of their journey to continue pursuing excellence and contributing towards their respective fields of interest.
“I had really enjoyed working on my capstone about the opioid crisis in the United States, which was awarded an Honourable Mention from the major. At the encouragement of my supervisor and former peer tutors, I’m hoping to work more on it and get it published in a journal article in the near future,” she said.
Ian, on the other hand, hopes to give back to the College by “continuing to provide help and support” to Yale-NUS Assistant Professor of Science (Mathematical and Computational Science) Michael Gastner’s group of research students. This is Ian’s way of expressing his gratitude to Yale-NUS and Asst Prof Gastner for the support and advice he had received as a research assistant and for his capstone project.
Aside from his continued work in research, Ian also aspires to excel in his role as a software engineer at a local start-up in Singapore. “Although the position is very technical, I believe the skills and approaches I picked up during my time at Yale-NUS – thinking philosophically, communicating clearly, and exploring new ideas with passion – will help me do well as a software developer,” he shared.