Singapore Management University
Feature | SMU

Making a Global Impact with SMU

An innovative and interdisciplinary curriculum, a global mindset and exceptional career support with extensive internship opportunities distinguish Singapore Management University (SMU)’s undergraduate experience from the rest. More amazingly, SMU offers a wide range of scholarships dedicated to nurturing a new generation of inspiring and impactful leaders of the future. This includes the SMU Global Impact Scholarship Award, which has greatly enriched Lucas Cheng’s learning experience and enhanced his capacity for global leadership, social responsibility.

SMU Global Impact Scholar Lucas Cheng is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Management programme and is hoping to enter the quantitative finance industry, preferably as a quantitative researcher.


ne in three incoming SMU freshmen are given scholarships and awards every year. Long established as one of SMU’s most prestigious scholarships, the Global Impact Scholarship Award (GISA) is designed to help realise each scholar’s leadership potential, ignite the desire, and hone the ability to make meaningful impact on society.

For Lucas Cheng, SMU has provided everything he needs to excel and reach his fullest potential at university, with the scholarship as an added advantage. The Bachelor of Business Management student describes his transformative journey at SMU and shares the diverse range of opportunities he has enjoyed as an SMU scholar.

To start off, why did you choose to pursue your degree at SMU?

SMU has a strong reputation for its finance curriculum, so I decided to pursue a degree here. I was also lucky enough to have been able to talk to a few universities to compare their experiences, and the teaching style in SMU stood out amongst other universities, as they employ a seminar style way of teaching which I felt suited my learning better. From my seniors, I also learnt that SMU students had more opportunities to learn outside of the classroom through internships with many of them able to secure multiple internships over the course of their study at prestigious firms.

SMU is well known for offering many awards and scholarships. Why did you choose the GIS?

During the general application, there was a scholarship application option embedded in the application form, in which I found a multitude of scholarships I could apply for. The wide range of scholarship options catered to different groups of applicants really impressed me, and the GIS stood out for the breadth of its coverage. Under the scholarship, I’m able to tap on optional support for postgraduate studies, something I am still seriously considering today.

“In SMU, the value of the curriculum extends far beyond the things taught in the classroom.” Lucas Cheng

How has the scholarship supported your academic experience while studying?

GIS is available to students across the entire university, which makes every cohort well-diversified in terms of academic discipline. Coupled with the common modules and projects that the scholarship entails, I have managed to make great friends with my highly talented peers across many different fields of study and career interests. This cross-disciplinary cohesion allows all of us to accelerate and broaden our learning.

You mentioned how the cohort is very diverse. Does this feature of the GIS provide you with an advantage?

Very much so! You see, my main source of motivation are my peers. The friends I made through GIS and other co-curricular activities have really inspired me with their drive and passion to learn and constantly improve themselves. Working with them on different projects and seeing them push themselves every day to reach their own career goals constantly motivates me to do the same.

A key component of the GIS is its focus on inculcating global leaders. What are some leadership skills that you have developed as a scholar at SMU?

The scholarship provides us plenty of leadership opportunities throughout our university life, including but not limited to hosting network events between students and professionals, overseas community service projects, and working with local social enterprises together with fellow GIS awardees. I was able to participate in a few of these activities in various capacities, and I was able to lead some of these events and projects. This allowed me to understand the nuances of leadership in a corporate setting and helped me hone my project leadership, stakeholder management skills, as well as corporate communication skills.

Tell us more about what makes SMU’s Business Management programme unique.

In SMU, the value of the curriculum extends far beyond the things taught in the classroom. The school’s unwavering focus to bring in professors with deep industry experience has tangibly enhanced our curriculum, as they help us link what we learn in the classroom with application in the industry. Particularly for the quantitative finance major, the professors are a good mix of industry and academia, and they have been generous in sharing their vast knowledge base and experiences with us students.

Lucas Cheng

Lucas Cheng

We understand you are in your second year of studies. How would you describe the SMU university experience?

It has been very rewarding and full of surprises so far, and I’m excited for each and every semester ahead. The highly liberal and open curriculum allows us to take charge of our own learning and look more deeply into areas of our own interest. The collaborative project work that is replete in all the modules that SMU offers, give us the opportunity to work with highly-driven peers over a wide range of topics and learn from each other.

Other than academics, internships also play a very big part in the learning process of every student in SMU. While it may feel like the final chapter of education at other universities, SMU makes me feel like it’s the first chapter of my career, with many students taking up multiple internships before their final year to experience what it’s like in the corporate world and exploring various industries to see what would suit them best in the long term.

What makes SMU truly stand out?

In totality, SMU has done an excellent job in creating an ecosystem for learning to happen, supporting the formation of numerous clubs that explore various industries, such as finance, consulting, data analytics, and software development.

On top of that, the diversity of competitive and recreational co-curricular activities spanning across sports, performing arts, and special interests give students more than enough avenues to let loose and have fun. Personally, I’ve joined a number of these recreational clubs, and have been lucky enough to pick up interesting new hobbies along the way, such as golf, fishing, wine appreciation, and diving.

Thank you for an excellent introduction to SMU’s pedagogy and philosophy. Finally, what advice would you give to someone who is considering applying for the GIS at SMU?

Think about who you are, how you are different from everyone else, and be honest with yourself, don’t spare your weaknesses from this. Next, think about why you have become who you are, what are the experiences that have shaped you to be the person you are today. Understanding your foundations and past will give you a clearer picture of what you want in your future and being honest about it will help you find what you want out of the Global Impact Scholarship.

Don’t ever be afraid to be yourself! Stay active in questioning the world around you, always re-examine yourself, and never lose trust in your own abilities.