Profile: Inspiring lives, one student at a time

By: Amanda Lee, Senior Assistant Manager (Media), Communications and Outreach

When he was a first-year Junior College student, Mr Emmanuel Tan’s family was facing mounting financial difficulties which almost prompted him to discontinue his studies.

“I wanted to withdraw from school because I thought that by doing so, it would help to reduce my family’s financial burden,” said Mr Tan.

Feeling perplexed, he turned to his General Paper teacher for advice, who reassured Mr Tan that he has the potential and strength to overcome the insurmountable odds.

After multiple conversations with his teacher, Mr Tan decided to continue with his education and became a part-time tutor to put himself through school.

He was later awarded a Public Service Commission Local Merit Scholarship which saw him through university and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the National University of Singapore and Bachelor of Law from the University of London.

“My teacher often chatted with me about university life. On reflection, I believe it is her way of encouraging me to look forward and to imagine a future which I thought was impossible. Through these conversations with her, I found my calling to be a teacher,” he added.

The LKCMedicine chapter

Today, Mr Tan is LKCMedicine’s Lead for Educational Engagement and Student Wellbeing, with 13 years of teaching experience in tertiary and university education. In 2016, Mr Tan joined the School as he was excited to be part of a new medical school, known for its innovative pedagogy and strong values. 

As the Lead for Educational Engagement, he is responsible for helping people to gain a better understanding of the School’s unique pedagogy, Team-Based Learning (TBL).

For instance, when the School has external visitors from other universities as well as the medical and educational communities, Mr Tan will explain the flipped classroom pedagogy and how it enhances learning for students.

“I also see that our mission is to help others to understand more about this pedagogical approach, so that they can (explore) the TBL approach in their own educational context,” he added.

His role also includes presenting TBL in the School’s outreach activities and Open House to potential students. Through his presentations, Mr Tan provides an overview of TBL, often through demonstrations for participants.

“I think the TBL demonstration is important as it allows potential students to have an idea of how our pedagogy works. They can then make a better-informed decision of the suitability of this active and collaborative learning style for them,” said Mr Tan.

Values are key in education

Throughout his teaching career, Mr Tan, may have taught countless students but he remains in touch with some of them.

“These experiences helped me to form a long view of education. Whilst it is important to equip them with the necessary skills to be competent in their current professional training, it is also critical to instill the important values and qualities such as curiosity, lifelong learning, humility and compassion to prepare them for their future professional and personal lives,” he added.

The importance of supporting students

Looking back, Mr Tan is thankful for the unconditional support from his teacher in school. He is now providing support to students at LKCMedicine in his role as the Lead for Student Wellbeing. He also engages House Tutors, Postgraduate Tutors, and relevant stakeholders to understand wellbeing issues and connect LKCMedicine students to the most appropriate support and care.

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve this important mission of supporting student wellbeing and the chance to work alongside an incredibly caring and supportive team. The students have also been very proactive in championing and implementing wellbeing initiatives and programmes,” said Mr Tan.

A part of his role includes deepening conversations on the concept of wellbeing, as it would have an impact on the delivery of the School’s support system. The understanding of wellbeing is helpful for Mr Tan and his team to understand what students needs and what works.

Staying true to what he believes in

In 2019, Mr Tan won the first prize at the inaugural Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU) Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity Ideas (NISTH) Ideas Challenge.

His essay which addressed the theme of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Humanity, included a proposal for an online dispute resolution mechanism known as “Online Mediation for AI”. 

His proposal is stemmed from his volunteering experience at the Community Mediation Centre (CMC), which he joined in 2017.

“I thought an online mediation mechanism can be useful to potentially address resolve some disputes and tensions that are created by AI,” said Mr Tan.

He joined the CMC as a volunteer mediator as mediation has a long history in Asian culture. A mediator is typically one of the “trusted village elders” who bring people and resources together to help and resolve conflict in the community, explained Mr Tan.

“In some ways, the mediation tradition resembles our work in supporting student wellbeing. If it takes a village to raise a child, the House Tutors, Postgraduate Tutors, and I can be understood as the proverbial village elders whom the students know will always have their best interests at heart,” he added.