Delivering his inaugural Commencement Dinner speech as NUS President on 20 July at Ridge View Residential College, Professor Tan Eng Chye urged the Class of 2018 to stay connected to NUS as active alumni and committed lifelong learners who seek to help others live fulfilling lives.
“I am fully confident that your impact and contributions in the years ahead will make Singapore and the world a much better place,” he said, raising a toast to the newest members of the NUS alumni family.
The annual dinner provided a fitting cap to Commencement 2018 held from 12 to 19 July, allowing newly minted graduates a chance to reflect upon their time in NUS and look forward to an exciting journey ahead.
It was attended by some 350 guests, including Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung; NUS Pro-Chancellors Mr Po'ad Mattar and Mr Chan Sek Keong; NUS Chairman Mr Hsieh Fu Hua; NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost Professor Ho Teck Hua; recent Honorary Graduate and Senior Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore The Honourable Justice Chao Hick Tin; NUS Trustees; NUS senior administrators; as well as faculty, staff, students and alumni.
Laughter and chatter emanated from the hall as guests were serenaded by the likes of NUS student band The Select Committee, as well as NUS Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music fresh graduate Steven Tanus who played Mozart’s Piano Sonata in B flat major K.333, I. Allegro. Steven, who attended the dinner with his proud parents in tow, is the first visually-impaired student to graduate with a Bachelor of Music (Honours) degree from NUS.
Addressing the graduates, Mr Ong said that NUS provides a good education and this is reflected in strong student employment outcomes. However, in a disruptive world, the definition of what it means to be a graduate is changing. “What is the body of knowledge and skills that you need before you step out into the workforce, considering that you’re going to learn for your whole life?” he asked. For this, he drew lessons from the recent World Cup — much to the delight of football fans — highlighting the need to stay united and purposeful as a nation, not to be complacent, and to forge strength through diversity.
In addition, like Prof Tan, he stressed the importance of giving back to society. “It does not have to be in the form of money and donations. Often, what we need is your time and your talent. Continue your volunteer work, extend a helping hand to a friend or neighbor in need, or mentor a student in your alma mater. Make your mark not just in your career, but in your community and your society, in whichever field you may venture into,” said Mr Ong.
Class of 2018 representatives Sharifa Fadillah Binte Yaa’cop from NUS Arts and Social Sciences and President of the 39th NUS Students' Union Jeffrey Lee from NUS Science also addressed the audience, with Sharifa sharing her appreciation of the holistic benefits accorded to her by an NUS education, and Jeffrey encouraging his peers to explore unchartered territories, stay grounded and appreciate those around them.
“There may be times in your life when you will question your life decisions. Perhaps the relevance of your degree to your job, or the dilemma of making a job switch. At that point of time, press on, because you can’t be too attached to how you think your life is supposed to work out, and instead trust that all the dots will be connected in the future,” said Jeffrey.
“One of the best gifts you can give yourself, right here, right now, in this moment of your life, is to commit to the journey, and not to the outcome,” he added.