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BrightSparks Special: Top Students Share Their Goals After Acing A-Levels

Hard work, discipline, perseverance, and sacrifice have paid off for three individuals at the release of the GCE A-Level results on 23 February 2018. Coming in as one of the top students in their junior colleges (JC), Keane Ong, Thung You Xuan, and Fatima Siddiqui from Victoria Junior College (VJC), Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) and Raffles Institution (RI) respectively, sit down with BrightSparks to share about their aspirations after graduation, and how a scholarship is going to support them in achieving them.


How has your JC aided your academic and holistic development?

Keane: Academically, the way the curriculum is structured and planned at VJC is progressive so that we peak at the optimal period. Hence, the pace of studies is good which allows for our external commitments, such as co-curricular activities (CCAs.

Non-academically speaking, leadership positions in my JC are great platforms for the teachers to guide and groom you as leaders. For myself, I was the chairperson of the Outdoor Adventure & Activities Club, and I benefitted immensely from my experience. At VJC, we work hard and play hard, which are the great factors in creating good memories.

You Xuan: Something that makes HCI stand out is the special programmes offered here. I was in the humanities programme and it is a little different in the sense that teachers want you to learn more independently. Honours are on you to seek out your teachers for consultations; and they are very open to committing more time for the extra work you produce. This constitutes to your holistic learning. You cannot always be studying; you have to spend time on CCAs. So going at your own pace and studying independently helps you to manage your studies better and increases your confidence level.

In terms of holistic development, we are afforded opportunities for overseas trips at HCI. This is less common in JCs in Singapore as compared to high schools in the USA. There is sufficient funding that we do not have to fork out too much personal expenses for these trips. Seeing the world greatly broadened my perspectives.

Fatima: RI was an institution that greatly emphasised Independent learning and teachers trusted and treated us like matured learners. That was liberating to me. Dynamic discussions would take place in classrooms and we push the boundaries of what we already knew

The deep-seated service culture in RI was what developed me holistically in a tremendous way. I served the school as the Vice-President of the Student Council; I served the local community, and even the overseas community through the International Service Learning and Leadership Elective. Service became a part of my lifestyle and routine that it was something my week would be incomplete without.

 

Which scholarship(s) do you have your eyes on, and why?

Keane: I am highly interested in the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) scholarship, as it is an engineering scholarship in the science defence and technology industry. I appreciate the creativity and innovation in their engineering and would love to develop my passion there. I am also not a desk-bound kind of person; thus the dynamic roles at DSTA would suit me perfectly.

The other would be Singapore-Industry Scholarships (SgIS) as I am interested in working with Novartis, which is a pharmaceuticals company. This field is pivotal and essential to human lives as it cures illnesses and empowers people. That is why I am interested in it.

Fatima: As I am keen on studying medicine locally, I am looking more at university-based scholarships. Hence, it would be the NUS Global Merit Scholarship, NUS Merit Scholarship, NTU Nanyang Scholarship and NTU LKC Medicine Scholarship. BrightSparks is the first place I go to when researching for scholarships. If I plan to go into other healthcare fields, I will consider MOH Holdings’ scholarships.

 

What are your academic and career goals moving forward?

Keane: I hope to study at Cambridge or Oxford as they have highly intellectual modules and tutorial structures are one-on-one. As engineering is a very applied topic, this practical aspect will enrich and help me more.

In general, I want to be humble when offered a scholarship and be a leader in the organisation in the future. My life motto is leaving the world a better place than when I came in.

You Xuan: Academically, I aspire to do well in university and enjoy my life there. I have been offered to read economics at Cambridge and will consider pursuing my degree there. It will be tough but I do not mind the challenge.

I want to be able to work with other countries for my professional goals. Travelling overseas and being exposed to rotational work is appealing to me.

Fatima: I want to use my profession to help people in Singapore and overseas. In my overseas programmes at RI, I went there as an untrained volunteer. Thus the service and help I could render was limited. With professional training, I can fulfil my goals more adequately. 

 

How do you think a scholarship will facilitate your personal and professional development in achieving these goals?

Keane: A scholarship is not about the monetary benefits – such as a high salary or a free ticket to study overseas. The opportunities, such as a tailored career path for scholars, are extremely valuable. This path includes mentoring and internships, which will groom me into the leader that I want to be.

You Xuan: It will keep you grounded – because you are tied to an organisation. Over the course of your university, you will not drift so much and focus because you have to contribute back to the organisation after graduation. A scholarship also gives you a sense of direction when you study as you study with an eye on the future on what you want to do. You do not just study for the sake of it. You work hard towards improving yourself to fulfil that career role.

Fatima: A scholarship’s benefits are multi-faceted; therefore it will provide me with different things that will help me in different aspects. One, the funding can offset the overseas exchanges I undertake during university to gain a wider experience and deeper understanding about people in other parts of the world, which would be humbling. The bond itself is also valuable for me because it provides that increased guarantee of getting those foundational years in my career.



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