Left: Jeremy Chua is a full-time student at SUSS pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work with a Minor in Paramedicine and Emergency Response. He is a recipient of the Tan Sri (Dr.) Tan Chin Tuan Scholarship, facilitated by SUSS.
Right: Wong Yoke Cheng is a full-time student pursuing a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education with a Minor in Film Studies. Outside the classroom, the Kewalram Chanrai Group Scholarship recipient plays for the SUSS Women's Football team.
The Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) is a university with a rich heritage in inspiring lifelong education and transforming society through applied social sciences. Students and alumni are developed to be work-ready and work-adaptive, aspiring to reach their full potential through the University’s 3H’s education philosophy – ‘Head’ for professional competency with applied knowledge, ‘Heart’ for social awareness to meet the needs of the society, and ‘Habit’ for passion towards lifelong learning. Its unique values are personified by undergraduates Jeremy Chua and Wong Yoke Cheng.
Jeremy is pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work with a Minor in Paramedicine and Emergency Response, while Yoke Cheng is pursuing a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education with a Minor in Film Studies.
We spoke to them about their choice to study at SUSS and their ambitions beyond university.
Jeremy, what motivated you to pursue Social Work?
Jeremy: Since childhood, I have taken a deep interest in serving the community. Through my parents, I discovered joy and satisfaction when I could be of help to someone else.
Later during my polytechnic studies, I received a diploma sponsorship to become a Fire and Rescue Specialist with the Singapore Civil Defence Force. Upon graduation, I was about to realise my childhood dream of being a firefighter when suddenly, my doctor discovered that I had underlying heart disease and would not be able to work in high-risk settings.
However, my spirit to help others has never wavered. I came across the Bachelor of Social Work programme at the SUSS open house, and immediately connected with the ideals and values of the social work profession. I decided to take a Minor in Paramedicine and Emergency Response because I felt that the programme complements the nature of a helping profession and my passion for saving lives. I am now actively pursuing my goal to become a Medical Social Worker, where my experience in healthcare and volunteering as a first aider would greatly benefit the work I will do.
Similarly, for Yoke Cheng, which aspect of Early Childhood Education attracted you, Yoke Cheng?
Yoke Cheng: I have a natural affinity toward children. I wish I had a grand story about how someone motivated me, but it was always just something I felt; you might call it a calling or even fate. It was a duty I believed was bigger than myself – I always wanted to make sure young children feel heard, validated, and respected.
My passion for working with young children permeated all my experiences to a point where my teachers could see my potential.
Through casual conversations with my piano teacher, she learnt how I helped my cousins prepare for their piano examinations. She then entrusted me with a teaching position at her own school – I was only 16 years old. When it was time to decide on a course after ‘O’-Levels, no one was surprised when I enrolled in the Diploma in Child Psychology and Early Education at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. It was the most natural progression for someone who enjoys caring for young children.
Yoke Cheng: It was an obvious choice. SUSS is the only autonomous university to offer a full-time Early Childhood Education (ECE) course recognised by the Singapore government. This was the biggest factor in my decision.
Jeremy: As for me, I could deeply resonate with SUSS’s values and identity, a leading university for social good. I believe that SUSS offers a holistic and comprehensive curriculum that will allow me to apply what I have learnt and contribute to helping transform society through the knowledge and skills I gain as a student.
How have your experiences been so far at SUSS?
Yoke Cheng: The academic experience at SUSS has exceeded all my expectations. The ECE programme prepared me for a level of academic rigour that compelled me to unlearn, learn and re-learn. I was exposed to a huge library of research and literature that helped to improve my teaching practices and validate my work. Overall, SUSS prepared me to be not only a teacher, but also an active learner of global issues and how these might affect early childhood education.
Jeremy: The self-directed learning approach at SUSS has shaped me into an independent learner and equipped me with essential time management, critical thinking and organisational skills. The seminars I have attended provide plenty of opportunities for the robust exchange of ideas and have tremendously enriched my journey as a Social Work undergraduate. Overall, the academic experience at SUSS has been beneficial to my personal growth and pursuit of my desired profession.
How has the learning environment at SUSS inspired you?
Jeremy: I suffered a shoulder dislocation during an outdoor course and had to undergo lengthy physiotherapy sessions. During this challenging period, SUSS supported me throughout my recovery journey. My instructors spent extra time and effort to ensure that I did not miss out on my learning, while the student support and academic staff regularly checked on my well-being. My classmates also generously extended help so that I could still contribute effectively to our group assignments.
I will forever remember the kindness, concern and compassion shown by the school and faculty members. This episode also revealed that members of the SUSS community do not just strive for social good, but also practise it through their day to day interactions. This spirit of care, commitment, and excellence makes SUSS different from other institutions. I am proud to be part of this closely-knitted community.
Yoke Cheng: I have been so fortunate to meet wonderful professors who are not only eager for our professional growth as teachers but also for the overall development of the Singapore early childhood landscape.
Drs Sirene Lim, Christine Chaillé and Ingrid Anderson have inspired me to further my studies and hopefully join them in academia as well!
I also have to say that I am so blessed that I had the opportunity to study film at SUSS as a Minor. Film Studies stood out to me for a particular reason. It reminded me of sentimental times spent with my father. After a heavy load of readings on child development and pedagogical approaches – which I love – an assignment on Film Studies is like a breath of fresh air.
What do you hope to achieve in your future career?
Jeremy: I hope to help those who may not have adequate support to cope with their needs and provide a sense of comfort and hope to those who are going through difficult times in their lives. Working with community members to create a lasting impact on the vulnerable in our communities is something that I hope I can achieve during my career.
Yoke Cheng: I am happy to report that I have started work as a lead teacher! Apart from pursuing a doctorate degree in the future, I wish to start a social enterprise that caters to teen parents and work with infants and toddlers as I see an urgent need to support teen parents who choose to have their babies. This dream of mine combines my two passions– social justice and early childhood education. If I can support young parents to care properly for their own children, the impact will be exponential!
What would you say to convince someone to choose SUSS?
Yoke Cheng: Being at SUSS has taught me a lot about forging my own path in a world where many aspects of life seem pre-arranged, and the courage it takes to be different. Studying here has also given me the strength to go out into the world and support other people finding their own way.
Jeremy: SUSS is unique because of its teaching pedagogy and learning philosophy. It sees itself as a member of the larger community with the responsibility and commitment to contribute to our society’s sustainability, growth, and transformation. SUSS’s global and interdisciplinary approach provides relevant and dynamic learning for its students, ensuring that we have what it takes to step into the real world to make a positive difference.