Jemimah Wei, Class of 2017
MFA Candidate at Columbia University, Host, Writer
(Academia, Arts, Media)
My time at NTU was very precious to me - not just in terms of studying under the stellar, committed cast of professors, but also in terms of the community of writers and readers I forged in my time there. Given the massive range of courses both within the School of Humanities, the larger College of Arts and Social Sciences, and the University as a whole, we were constantly encouraged to dabble, to diversify, and as a result, saw learning not just as study, but also as play. This took shape in my media work later on, both onscreen as a host, and behind the scenes as screenwriter and producer.
Since graduating, I've returned to NTU to do my MA in English, Creative Writing, which included a year of teaching, and am now pursuing my MFA in Fiction at Columbia, where I've recently been named a 2020 De Alba fellow. Writing is solitary but a writer's life is not. Finding mentorship in NTU's writing department was absolutely essential to me in illuminating the ways a writing practice could manifest, especially with regards to sharpening my concerns as a writer. It also solidified my belief in the importance of a reading and writing community, which later led to my work with local booksellers on in-store curation, and with regional organizations on establishing a scholarship and mentorship program for students interested in pursuing an education in the arts and humanities.
Patricia Karunungan, Class of 2019
Editor and Writer
During my six years with the English department—first as an undergraduate, then later as an MA student—I received a wealth of opportunities to pursue my interests in literary research and creative writing. The classes were wonderfully challenging, and what I appreciated most was the nurturing environment. When I wanted to deepen my interests in topics outside of the syllabus—for example, while Filipino authors were taught, there was no module dedicated solely to Filipino literature—I received encouragement and support from my professors to turn my enthusiasm into independent research projects. Through their guidance and the URECA programme, I was given the resources to study Filipino fiction—a topic close to my heart—in depth; this laid the foundation for my later decision to specialise in Southeast Asian novels as a graduate student.
Since I graduated from NTU in 2019, I have been working as an editor in the magazine and book publishing industries. My education has given me a solid foundation in the technical skills I need to plan, curate, and improve great content. My professors in the English department taught me empathy and compassion, too—professionally, I have the acumen to communicate effectively and manage various kinds of stakeholder relationships. At the same time, I am able to see the bigger picture and consider difficult questions, such as what—and whose—stories aren’t being told.
Dominic Neo, Class of 2014
Business Development Executive, Performance Coatings International
(Business and Management)
I truly enjoyed my time in NTU. The academic rigour and breadth was challenging—a fact that you’ll only appreciate if you study abroad—and the teaching team was always professional, knowledgeable and warm. I made a few good and lifelong friends too.
Although I may not be able to directly apply what I had learnt in school to my career in the construction industry, NTU English honed my ability to think, analyse, and communicate critically and emphatically. These qualities are so crucial in a world inundated with information and misinformation.
Amanda Ng, Class of 2020
Early Childhood Trainer, Helen O’Grady Drama Academy
I’m Amanda. I‘m with the regional headquarters of Helen O’Grady Drama Academy. We run an international programme that supports children’s development through drama.
Not very many English majors choose this path; I did because it marries my passions for language and literature, education, and the performing arts. I’m responsible for content marketing, I develop curriculum for toddlers, and I’m learning to be a drama trainer. It’s a diverse role and this list will only grow. But I feel equipped with the skills and perspectives I gained over my 4 years in SoH. It does get challenging at times, but it’s also exhilarating—it gets me up and going every morning.
Lim Yan Sin, Class of 2014
Head of Internal Operations, The Write Connection
(Business and Management)
It is the interpersonal skills and personal management skills gained from my time in NTU English that have helped me build my career - from being a teacher of Creative Writing to a Head of Internal Operations/an Operations Manager. As a manager, it is not uncommon to have multiple projects ongoing at the same time, each with their own context and objectives. In addition to teaching me to manage my time well between the many projects, the arts education in NTU English has also provided crucial training in critical thinking. These skills have proven essential in helping me to analyse every business problem and come up with innovative solutions. Choosing NTU English is a decision I will never regret.
Lye Kit Ying, Class of 2016
Senior Lecturer at SUSS
My time at NTU English was nothing but rewarding. The professors are well-versed in the topics of their research, and their passion for literature is always inspiring. The small class sizes enabled me to engage in active discussions with my professors and peers, and I was always encouraged to think more and read more. From Victorian Literature to Contemporary Literature, from Literary Theory, Critical Theory to Cultural studies, the postgraduate education I received at NTU English has equipped me with reading and research skills that serve me well for my teaching and research work as Senior Lecturer at Singapore University of Social Sciences. The reading, thinking and research skills I learnt at NTU English has enabled me to take on multidisciplinary research in the next stage of my academic career. More importantly, I continue to receive support and encouragement from my advisor and professors from the English department at NTU after graduation – a testament to how much they care about their students.
Charmaine Ann Thio, Class of 2014
SEA Regional Brand Ambassador, Hendrick's Gin
(Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations)
It was at NTU English that I realised the value of thinking unconventionally, that the world needs more unabashed dreamers and deviant thinkers to hold up a different lens against the world we sometimes assume we know. The thing about the English program is that it’s not about tearing apart words on a page in search of some notion of truth and meaning; it’s about discovering different cultures, history, ideologies, perspectives, philosophies, theories and sometimes a little more about yourself. It opens your mind up to things you never knew you never knew and it’s that acceptance of personal ignorance coupled with insatiable curiosity that helps you form genuine connections with people from all walks of life as you move on to build your career.
Most importantly I enjoyed my time at NTU English because I was doing something I loved even if naysayers told me my prospects were limited. I couldn’t fathom waking up every day being greeted by the thought that I was obligated to go do something I cared nothing for. After graduating I still held on to that philosophy and found myself working as a bartender for the next 4 years. Some people said I was wasting my degree, I say I was playing the long game. Today I work for one of the most successful family owned spirits companies in the world. I travel around the region speaking at cocktail conferences, trade panels and roundtables, I sit on various trade committees regionally and globally, and I help bring delightfully unusual experiences to life, all representing a brand that is proud to say that it’s “not for everyone”. The English program is definitely not for everyone and I’ll be honest, the path isn’t always clear. But, if you’re unafraid of pursuing the peculiar then go ahead, take the road less travelled and who knows where you’ll end up but oh, the places you’ll go!
Hidhir Razak, Class of 2014
Corporate Relations Manager, PEPWorldwide Asia
(Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations)
The years I spent reading and writing critically under the guidance of the English Division has empowered me with information processing, storytelling, presentation, and writing skills that continue to help me excel in my current role. Beyond that, I also treasure the bonds that I have with the friends I made among my course mates and faculty, all of whom are truly some of the most intelligent and passionate people I know.
Deborah Wong, Class of 2014
Broadcast Journalist, CNA
English Majors are probably the only ones left who still walk around with the bulky schoolbag of an O-Level student. It's no secret that we plough through copious amounts of reading materials every week. But beyond that, it was the hour-long heated discussions in classes that I learnt the most from. We didn't just read story books. We debated on social-political history, and explored the symbiotic relationship of art and science through modules like Gender & Sexuality Studies, Women in Literature, Film Theory and Singapore Literature. And given that we were trained to read between the lines, it sharpened our ability to identify deflection, deception, and to draw out nuances that most would gloss over. These are skills I turn to as a reporter. And in my world where deadlines are sometimes by the second or minute, that sharp eye makes a world of difference.
Wan Zhong Hao, Class of 2014
Video Journalist, Visual Media Practitioner
I think the most significant contribution reading English had to my current career choice was the breadth and depth of perspectives and narratives that the course provides across the four years. To me, the English programme offered a condensed look at the human condition from the lens of writers and artists across time that attempted to communicate a part of their lived/imagined realities in their work. This breadth and depth has enabled me to keep an inquiring and open mind to the multitude of new and emerging narratives of our current time. The mediums of expression have expanded exponentially, and an English background provides an anchor that informs me of where my work stands amidst a rapidly evolving world and provides purpose.
Amanda Trea Phua, Class of 2015
Senior Analyst, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies RSIS (Intelligence)
Literature is the best education I’ve gotten for myself. It is a rigorous learning that begins from the text that extends to your everyday. It inculcates a sense of criticality that helps you navigate the complexities of today’s world, in which every social event and movement becomes something to think carefully about. This is perhaps why many of my course mates and I end up in places of meaning-making for a career. In my work as a researcher, I research extensively on the state of global affairs in a bid to make sense of, and then synthesise as policy recommendations for government stakeholders.
The nature of literature is exactly that it is multi-disciplinary so that you will have more than sufficient room to explore the methods, philosophies, and mediums that you like. It is on this basis that I could later get a graduate degree in International Relations, writing a dissertation from a critical feminist perspective that had built itself up from my time with literary theory. Suffice to say, professors in the department are also notoriously brilliant, and are mostly kind enough to accommodate some young adult idealism!
Sarah Daud, Class of 2018
Associate Librarian, National Library Board (Library and Information Sciences)
The best thing about NTU English is how it helps you achieve your wildest dreams, even the ones that you’re too scared to admit to yourself. Prior to coming to NTU, I was a completely average student. I thought that all I had in front of me was a lifetime of mediocrity so I buried away my childish hopes of pursuing a higher degree. But then, I began my Bachelor of Arts in English at NTU. The professors here gave me the skills, encouragement and opportunities to become so much more than I imagined. With their help, I’ve presented papers at conferences, published in journals, exchanged ideas with internationally-recognised scholars and travelled around the world! And the best part of it all? I finally gained enough confidence to revisit that dream I had put behind me.
Today I am a proud alumnus of NTU English, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2015, and then returning to achieve my dream of earning a Master of Arts in English in the very place that made me feel like I could. If you’re looking for a programme to challenge you, to develop you and to grow you in ways you never thought possible, this is it!
Rayna Yun, Class of 2019
Copywriter, Lucidity (Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations)
Enrolling into NTU English was a dream come true as I love reading. I could do just that and more with people who shared the same inquisition and curiosity in life. We had the freedom to balance our academic pursuits and interests; like taking Science fiction literature on a Monday and Romanticism on a Thursday. The professors were always so helpful and very knowledgable, making each class memorable.
Acquiring this wide variety of experiences and analytical skills equipped me to transition to what I'm doing now as an account manager and copywriter in a design house. The insatiable curiosity and enthusiasm to create and develop thesis topics back in NTU directly influence my curating client-specific content. There seems to be an endless flow of possibilities and ideas, even as I continue to explore and discover the unknown.
Jeslyn Woon, Class of 2021
Management Associate, Tan Tock Seng Hospital
As someone who entered NTU English with a Diploma in Food Science and Nutrition, the naysayers often insinuated that I gave up a “bright” future or that I wasted my time pursuing an arts degree. Even job interviewers asked me why I would choose
the less travelled path. But my time here was the best education I had experienced in my life. The breadth and depth of modules expanded my mind in ways that other courses cannot offer. I encountered numerous ideologies and perspectives and discovered
different cultures spanning across time and space. The most fulfilling thing for me, however, was the professors who were incredibly brilliant, supportive, and passionate in class. They reignited the love I had for knowledge and the firm belief that
writing is thinking formalized. By honing my facility with language, I am also learning to be an effective communicator.
Although I did not pursue a path that necessarily involves English after graduation, the skills that I acquired have well-equipped me to survive in unfamiliar and complex terrains in healthcare and see things from a fresh perspective. Being a better communicator has also helped me manage different stakeholders. If you are worried about your prospects after graduation, fear not! The English program opens avenues beyond the traditional English-related tracks so long as you have courage, determination, and an open mind.