As a leading global university, the National University of Singapore (NUS) strives to offer its students a well-rounded curriculum as well as holistic student development, no matter their field of study. To learn more about how NUS is preparing students for their industry of choice, we speak to 19-year-old Jean Ang, and 21-year-old Reuben Chua, recipients of the NUS Merit Scholarship and NUS Global Merit Scholarship respectively.
Why did you choose to study at NUS?
Jean: I’ve always known that NUS would be my top choice. A major draw is the academic programmes which are rigorous and in-depth, something which NUS is well known for. I knew that I could get a good head start if I applied, and that the university could train me not just in academic skills, but also interpersonal skills and character development.
Another part I liked was the fact that NUS has on-campus residences. It was a good thing for me because I’ve always felt that a university experience would not be complete without living on campus and experiencing campus activities.
NUS Global Merit Scholarship
Bachelor of Engineering (Biomedical Engineering) – National University of Singapore
Reuben: I’m currently part of the second batch of the NUS Engineering and Duke-NUS Medicine track. I will complete the Bachelor of Engineering at NUS first, followed by a Doctor of Medicine at Duke-NUS Medical School. When I heard about this, I thought it was something unique. The purpose of this track is to groom clinicians, while honing their engineering skills to apply them in the medical field.
Aside from academics, there are opportunities within and outside of my faculty which I can explore. There are many people that I can meet outside of my studies, which facilitates the exchange of different ideas and cultures.
What was your motivation in applying for the NUS Scholarship?
Jean: The fact that the scholarship was bond-free was a huge part of it because that allowed me to keep my options open and explore my interests freely and stay flexible for what I wanted to pursue in my future career.
Another factor was that NUS scholars have a commitment to participate in community involvement projects. I felt that instead of studying in school all day, I could engage in some meaningful activities with these opportunities that the NUS Scholarship provides.
Reuben: For me, it’s the assurance that you can get into the student exchange programmes, which is an experience I find extremely valuable. You get to see the world in a different light, see how they work differently; being able to apply what you’ve learned in another context is quite interesting. Of course, the financial support which eases my parents’ burden is important as well.
Outside of your course, what other development opportunities have you experienced at NUS?
Jean: Being able to live on campus provides me with the opportunity to meet people outside of my course and scholarship, as well as to engage in hall CCAs. These CCAs are highly flexible and don’t require a heavy commitment unlike the school-based CCAs. As a law student, I won’t always have the time for something which demands a high level of commitment.
Reuben: The CCAs in hall groom you in different aspects. There are different types of CCAs, and I am involved in both sports and cultural activities. Sports develops my teamwork skills. For culture, I am involved in drama. I’ve always liked singing, but I’ve never ventured into it because I was scared to do it in front of a crowd. Raffles Hall—where I’m staying in—has a yearly musical production, so I went for the audition and I passed it. It really forced me to break out of my shell.
NUS Merit Scholarship Undergraduate
Bachelor of Law – National University of Singapore
How do you think your education at NUS is preparing you for your career in the future?
Jean: Being well-trained in your course or your specialised field can help you stand out from other people in future when you apply for a job. I think that NUS develops people holistically through opportunities like the student exchange programme or the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC), an overseas entrepreneurship programme where you get to work and study at the same time.
Reuben: For me, the first year is about building a strong foundation because fundamentals are important for engineering. Curriculum-wise, there are more hands-on experiments, which allows me to learn by application. On top of that, having to do group projects teaches me how to work with different types of people.
Any words of wisdom for future NUS students?
Jean: There’s always a pressure for scholars to maintain their grades, but I think that shouldn’t be the sole focus. University is much more than that. Try and strike a balance between striving academically but also having fun in whatever you do, because if you focus too much on trying to maintain your grades, that may take away the joy in the process.
Reuben: Step out of your comfort zone. University is your last chance where you’re going to get an opportunity to do something different. Studying is important but there is so much more that you can do. Just get out there, get to know more people, and build your connections because you never know when it will come in handy.
Besides that, don’t ever give up when you’re applying for a scholarship. I nearly gave up on my dreams after being rejected from NUS medicine twice, but the track I applied for gave me an option that I thought was interesting. There might be a different way to pursue your dreams.