On the evening of 7 July, our Class of 2017, their families and friends, USP professors and staff, all gathered at the NUS University Cultural Centre. It was an important occasion as we witnessed a major milestone of our students – of finishing their undergraduate studies and transiting into a new phase of their lives beyond USP and NUS.
We were extremely proud to have our very own alumna, Ms Tin Pei Ling, as the Guest Speaker for that evening. Pei Ling graduated from USP in 2007, exactly 10 years ago, and is now the Group Director of Corporate Strategy at Jing King Tech Group and a Member of Parliament in Singapore. In her heartfelt speech to her USP juniors and the other graduates from NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health and Institute of Systems Science present that evening, she reflected on the lessons she learnt after graduation, emphasising on the need to keep learning, to be tough and to give back to community. We are happy to share parts of her speech, below.
KEEP LEARNING, KEEP BUILDING
Keep learning to acquire the latest knowledge and skills. Inoculate yourself against the uncertainties of the world through lifelong learning and continually strive to improve yourselves. Condition your mental muscles to be supple and ready to change specialisations to enter emerging sectors if the one you were in is riding into sunset.
Build your soft skills such as interpersonal, negotiation and communication skills, and learn how to work in teams and across cultures. Build your networks, keep in touch with your classmates and continue to meet new people.
BE REAL, BE TOUGH
Youth is a great advantage. What we lack in experience, we more than make up for with our energy. Youth means we have time to recover from mistakes and setbacks. Youth means we are strong enough to bounce back. Always retain that youthful spirit. Maintain that sense of excitement and anticipation, and live your dreams with passion.
So, be real in what you believe in and what you do, because people can see for themselves and time will be your judge. Be tough mentally because life is a marathon, and marathons always favour those with perseverance.
The fact that we made it to and through NUS means that we are all privileged in some way. Regardless of our starting point in life, we have all benefitted from the world-class education that NUS has given us. Armed with a degree conferred by the NUS, doors will open for us.
How many youths around the world have been able to enjoy the same? The answer is clear, all of us who graduated from NUS are a privileged bunch of people. Therefore, we must give back.”
Pei Ling’s speech is a timely reminder for over 300 graduates from USP and the other two schools, of how they should always be ready for change and stay resilient.
USP Valedictorian for Class of 2017, Poh Yu Ting (Sociology + USP), thanked her professors and loved ones, and spoke of the learning and the people in USP.
USP means many things to me, and I believe it holds a set of unique meaning for every graduate from the Class of 2017. I would like to share two salient characteristics which have left a deep impression on me throughout these four years of my journey with USP.
USP LEARNING EXPERIENCE
When we entered USP as excited Year Ones, we knew that we would constantly be taking in information, making sense of new knowledge and analysing them critically. The rigorous curriculum at USP ensures that a multi-disciplinary learning environment is available for all students, regardless of which faculty you belong to. The multitude of opportunities at USP allowed us to blossom and learn in different ways, but what I found particularly striking was how the diversity of people and opportunities fostered the environment for the depth of learning that takes place here, both formally and informally.
It is in the everyday interactions that I am constantly inspired by my USP peers.
With our theses and Final Year Projects, we may have gotten busier and had lesser time to share our day to day musings with each other. Yet, the bonds we forged have kept us close and it is this very diversity of people and experiences that have made my four years in USP such a memorable journey.
On behalf of the USP Class of 2017, I would also like to extend my gratitude to our USP professors. Your knowledge, kindness, and understanding have guided us through the four years of our education journey. The synergy of cross-faculty perspectives mediated by your guidance was always extremely stimulating and exciting, and it challenged us to re-negotiate our intellectual boundaries. Our interactions always extended beyond the confines of the USP seminar rooms, sometimes even taking it abroad when we embarked on overseas learning trips. Furthermore, our professors all knew us by name, adding a personal touch to our academic experience.
To the USP administration, thank you for making every facet of our USP experience so enjoyable. Your helpfulness, efficiency and willingness to listen to the ideas of students allowed so many international programmes and student-led initiatives to become a reality.
The Unique Selling Point of USP is that we are a faculty home to 7 different faculties. Four years of constant interactions with people from various faculties have shown us how issues are always multi-faceted, with different schools of thought contributing to the complexity of these issues. USP highlighted the importance of possessing a sense of perspective and debating astutely with a compassionate heart. As we leave the comforts of USP and enter diverse career fields, let us always remember to hold on to a perceptive mind, a heart open to different viewpoints, a willingness to listen and to practise empathy.”
The balloons dropped and the ceremony drew to an end. Later that evening, USP graduand Lee De Yi penned this on his Instagram and Facebook accounts (with his permission, we share it here):
"4 years ago, I had a choice between NUS and a liberal arts college in the US. I had a huge urge to follow many of my friends to head overseas for an adventure. Yet, a part of me was intuitively tugged to stay to learn and grow with local communities. And I’m very glad I did.
USP was one of the reasons that drew me to stay, and it became a staple of my growth. The classes carved me, the opportunities developed me, and the people shaped me. To be able to live and laugh with a community that is both like-minded and diverse has given me more than I could ask for. Every single one of my experiences in the past 4 years has cultivated me into who I am today. Sure, I have made several wrong decisions in NUS, but I’ve never made a bad one. My first decision of choosing NUS+USP was probably also my best. I could have a very different person if I chose anywhere else, but because I chose NUS+USP, I am who I am today. When I look back, it is not accomplishment that strikes me, but a deep sense of fulfilment.
Thank you NUS. Thank you USP. Thank you to my family.
Thank you every single precious one of you who has been part of my journey.
Curious, Critical and Engaged, I will always be."
USP Commencement this year will conclude with a cosy dinner at the CHIJMES Hall on the evening of 21 July.
To our Class of 2017, you have done well and we are proud of you. All the best, we will see you soon as our valued alums!