Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NTU had to postpone last July’s convocation for the Class of 2020 but last month, they finally came back to campus for the in-person ceremonies. From 1 to 16 March, some 3,400 graduates attended together with their family members and guests.
Among the Class of 2020 graduates, we spoke to three inspiring individuals, who are now finding their way in the world.
Bachelor of Business, Nanyang Business School (NBS)
Harmith believes in giving back to the community and volunteered for numerous stints during his time at NTU. At the height of the pandemic last year, he and his friends began the #SupportWithLove social initiative to help people affected by COVID-19 via phone calls and WhatsApp video calls. They offered emotional support to people in need, assisted the elderly with getting their daily essentials and supported the unemployed with their job search. Harmith gave credit to NTU for providing the platform to develop his network, which he could later tap on to help serve those in need.
During his undergraduate studies, Harmith spent a semester studying in Michigan and completed an internship at Walt Disney World, Orlando – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he took, thanks to the help of the NBS Career Services team.
Shortly after completing his degree at Nanyang Business School, Harmith was selected from hundreds of applicants for the Management Trainee programme at NTUC FairPrice, the largest supermarket chain in Singapore. He first learnt about the programme at the virtual NTU career fair last year.
As part of the team behind the newly opened playground-concept FairPrice Xtra Parkway Parade branch, Harmith was given the opportunity to apply what he learnt at university. He proposed the idea of a wet market-style spice stall with a spice blending service – known as “Jeya Spice” – that was eventually implemented.
Harmith is also a polyglot who can speak six different languages, including Cantonese and Malay. During Chinese New Year this year, a video of him conversing in Mandarin fluently with shoppers at FairPrice Xtra Parkway Parade went viral on social media.
Bachelor of Communication Studies, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI)
Dawn Kwan, a Singaporean painter and sculptor, has produced over 400 paintings and held eight major solo art exhibitions. Her passion for art began as a child. At the age of 11, her painting titled “When Dawn Overtakes The Night” won the Highly Commended Award for Abstract Category at the 27th UOB Painting of the Year Exhibition.
Dawn is gratified that her family has been very supportive of her artmaking, encouraging her to help other people with her talent. When she was eight, her family auctioned her paintings for $15,000 to provide free cleft lip surgery to Vietnamese children. They continued supporting other charities as a family by selling her artworks. “I believe that art can serve a greater purpose in helping vulnerable communities,” she said. It was this conviction that led to her decision to pursue a full-time master’s degree in Art Therapy with LASALLE College of Arts so she could “help people cope with trauma and engage in the transformative process of engaging and experiencing art-making”.
During her undergraduate studies at NTU, Dawn had the opportunity to run the “Girl, Talk” campaign to support and empower her fellow female undergraduates, for her final year project (FYP). This campaign addressed the issue of sexual harassment on campus and provided female students with advice on how to respond safely and effectively to such incidents. Her FYP team even piloted a VR simulation programme that targeted sexual harassment, in collaboration with Hiverlab, an AR VR company in Singapore.
Dawn is currently serving a clinical placement as part of her master’s programme at Project X – an organisation that supports sex workers by providing them with counselling, education, legal advice, and healthcare. “I am currently working on planning individual and group art therapy sessions for them, and hopefully, I will be able to work alongside my supervisors and teammates to create a social action project that aims to destigmatise sex work.”
PhD, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE)
Growing up, Dr Alvin Chew was an unlikely PhD candidate who considered himself a “slow developer”. As a normal academic student in his secondary school, Dr Chew had to work harder than his peers to understand new concepts. He described his arduous education journey as “not smooth sailing”. It took him close to two decades of conscientious efforts to finally reach the pinnacle of formal education – attaining a PhD under the Nanyang President's Graduate Scholarship last year.
Alvin credits his academic achievements to his family, especially his mother. “Through the many ups and downs, she has given me the most emotional support in every decision that I took and fully believed in me even in difficult circumstances.” Growing up in a humble family background, Alvin empathised with the underprivileged students and this motivated him to give back to the community. He is currently working with a special school to prepare a proposal for Microsoft on developing AI solutions for autistic students.
His time doing the PhD was not without challenges. “I faced several rejections of my research papers for publication during those two years. Each rejection, however, was an opportunity for me to hone my writing skills,” he said. In the fourth year of his PhD programme, he attained an 8-month Cloud Research Fellowship from Microsoft that allowed him to continue his research on Azure Cloud. His PhD studies have given him opportunities to present at international conferences, which developed his confidence in public speaking. The interdisciplinary training that he received in NTU also helped him secure a job as a data scientist at DHI Group in 2019, where he applied his knowledge in machine learning to derive solutions for civil and environmental engineering.
Alvin is currently a Research Engineer at Bentley Systems Inc, where he works with PUB Singapore on a project funded by National Research Foundation to develop a technology solution for pre-detecting and localising leakages in underground water distribution pipe networks.
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