On 17 April 2017, the Faculty of Science launched its Science Merit Scholarship initiative with a dinner attended by some 200 alumni, benefactors, corporate partners, students and staff.
This special occasion was graced by Guest of Honour President Dr Tony TAN Keng Yam, Chancellor of NUS, who is an alumnus of the Faculty of Science. Also present were NUS President Prof TAN Chorh Chuan and Deputy President and Provost Prof TAN Eng Chye.
President Tony Tan had the opportunity to meet a group of 11 Science students, and briefly chatted with them. The students were thrilled at meeting the President.
During the dinner, Dean of Faculty of Science, Prof SHEN Zuowei spoke of the rapid technological changes and scientific challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution which made the learning of science even more important. To take Singapore to the next level of advancement, it is now even more imperative to invest in science education to grow a critical mass of science-educated graduates.
Prof Shen said, “Science graduates are particularly valuable in times of uncertainty and disruption. While technology can turn obsolete in the blink of an eye, the fundamental knowledge of science and attributes such as critical thinking, problem-solving and passion for discovery have enduring value.”
Prof Shen is the Co-Chair of the Science Scholarship initiative, together with Prof Leo TAN, Director of Special Projects at the Faculty. Prof Leo Tan also took to the stage with a rallying call to guests to support the building of an endowment fund that will provide scholarships to attract talented students with the aptitude and ability to study Science at NUS.
Prof Tan also emphasised that a donation was an investment in nurturing a young life. Going on to explain that students receive academic mentoring as well as emotional and mental or spiritual support, he said, “University life is but a sojourn and we prepare our graduates not just with professional or domain competence but also to aspire to live their lives meaningfully.” Prof Tan also thanked the benefactors who had already contributed to the establishing of scholarships to kickstart the initiative.
Two students also shared on how NUS’ Transformative Science Education helped them to ignite their passion, hone their skills and fulfil their dreams.
First to speak was Benjamin GOH, Year 4 Physics, and a Global Merit scholar. He shared on how he discovered his interest in communicating and explaining science to others and his experience working in sales and marketing for a social start-up which specialises in using animation as a pedagogical tool for public education in various topics such as Diabetes Disease Management, Biotechnology, Psychology and even Physics. He expressed his gratitude to NUS for the scholarship that gave him the freedom and security to pursue his interest.
Samantha LAI, who was awarded the NUS Faculty Scholarship as an undergraduate, then spoke on how the scholarship fuelled her passion in conservation during her studies at the Department of Biological Sciences (DBS). The scholarship had enabled her to truly develop herself by opening doors to diverse and enriching learning opportunities. These opportunities, including a Student Exchange Programme to Sweden and an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme in Science (UROPS) project on reef corals, nurtured her deep interest in marine ecology and conservation. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. after working for a few years at the National Parks Board.
Guests also enjoyed a performance by the BioEnsemble, a group of students and staff from DBS who regaled the crowd with two upbeat songs. Their performance was met with rousing applause from the audience.
Of particular note was the presence of retired Professor Dennis H. MURPHY and many ex-students and friends who gathered to honour him with the establishment of a scholarship in his name.
The memorable occasion was marked by laughter and merriment as staff and students mingled with guests throughout the night.
This article was first published on the NUS Faculty of Science website.