S ince its establishment in 2000, Singapore Management University (SMU) has earned the reputation of being on the cutting-edge of progress. Providing a plethora of opportunities for undergraduates to hone their creative and analytical thinking abilities, the school places emphasis on the holistic development of its students to prime them for success.
Lee Kong Chian Scholar Justin Bay and SMU Scholar Jane Wang Shufang are proud to be SMU students. They take the time to tell us more about their transformative learning experience with the school, as well as their respective bond-free scholarship programmes.
Why did you choose to pursue your degree at SMU?
Justin Bay: A university education is a platform to prepare myself for the working world. With this in mind, I felt that SMU’s pedagogical approach would give me the best foundation to get a head-start in the workplace. It would give me the necessary skills to not only survive, but also succeed once I graduate. As someone who is generally introverted, I felt the need to put myself in an environment that would constantly challenge me and develop my ability to speak up and contribute in projects and discussions. Such soft skills are important regardless of career choice.
SMU prides itself on its interactive learning model in seminar-style classrooms, and I believe that this is truly how SMU differentiates itself from other universities. By reducing the class size and encouraging discussion and class participation, all students are given the opportunity to think critically, voice their opinions, and learn from the viewpoints of others. As a result, learning becomes more dynamic and exciting.
Jane Wang: I chose SMU primarily because of its interactive pedagogy, which is its hallmark. I enjoy an environment where students and professors are engaged in discussions during lessons, which makes learning more interesting and dynamic. Furthermore, SMU nurtures students to become global citizens – this means that there are all types of overseas opportunities for students to enjoy, be it international student exchange programmes or business study missions.
How have you personally benefited from your scholarship?
Justin: The Lee Kong Chian Scholars’ Programme (LKCSP) places great importance on the personal development of scholarship recipients. Apart from monetary benefits to cover tuition fees as well as opportunities for international exchange programmes and overseas community service programmes, there is also a strong community of seniors and alumni who are always willing to help and guide juniors.
Upon starting school as a freshman, each scholar is assigned a mentor who is one year ahead to provide guidance on the different aspects of university – from academic modules to co-curricular activities and internships. University can be very fast-paced and overwhelming, so I benefited greatly from having a dedicated mentor being there for me every step of the way.
Jane: Students from the SMU Scholars’ Programme (SMUSP) have many bonding activities lined up for them, whether it is a freshmen orientation camp or back-to-school celebrations at the start of every academic year. This has allowed me to forge friendships with students outside of my faculty.
The SMU Scholars’ Programme gave me the chance to go on a study trip to Australia in December 2014. It was an eye-opening trip that consisted of visits to a large variety of firms and organisations, including the Reserve Bank of Australia, York Buttery Factory, and a beer brewery.
Have you been on any exchange programmes? Tell us about them.
Justin: I was fortunate enough to have studied overseas twice – the first time was during my summer exchange programme at Korea’s Yonsei University, and the second during my exchange programme at Poland’s Warsaw School of Economics.
Lee Kong Chian Scholar
These were two unique experiences that helped me to grow as a student and an individual. Living in a foreign land away from friends and family taught me to become more independent and self-reliant. It also allowed me to experience different cultures and different styles of university education, which gave me a broader global perspective.
Jane: I went to Lund University at the south of Sweden from January to June 2015. I applied for an exchange programme all by myself, with the intention of throwing myself in at the deep end and learning how to become more independent.
My exchange experience was fulfilling and thrilling as I managed to make many new friends, both from SMU and outside of SMU. I remember only being assigned a room under the university accommodation system from early February, which meant that I did not have a place to stay for the first three weeks. However, I managed to contact a few SMU students who were facing the same situation, and they became my housemates. We only started talking face-to-face when we touched down at Copenhagen airport, but we soon became close friends after living, eating, and studying together.
What should those looking to join SMU prepare themselves for?
Justin: You should definitely be prepared to constantly challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone. SMU provides many opportunities and platforms for those who are willing to try something new, from extra-curricular activities, networking sessions and overseas study missions to community service projects, but it is up to the individual to make the best of these opportunities. This also applies to the classroom, as the seminar style approach will only truly be beneficial if you seize the opportunity to participate actively and learn from not just the professor, but from other students as well.
Jane: I entered SMU with much anticipation, albeit with some trepidation. Looking back on the past few years I spent in SMU, I have no regrets about how I spent my time here. SMU provides many different kinds of opportunities to students with all kinds of interests, be it through serving the community or becoming an entrepreneur. Grab these opportunities as they come your way, learn with an open mind, and of course, have lots of fun!