13
July
2018
|
16:28
Europe/Amsterdam

An all-rounded leader

NUS Pharmacy graduate Elston is a natural leader in many areas of his University life

When NUS Pharmacy graduating student Elston Foo stepped onto stage for his commencement this year, it was as an Honours (Highest Distinction) graduate and the year’s valedictorian. Beyond his academic achievements however, Elston has left a mark in the University, both in community service and in co-curricular activities.

“I was drawn towards the empathic value of improving human health, and the unique humanistic elements that come with healthcare work,” Elston said of his choice of course. At the same time, he held an avid interest in politics and global studies.

NUS Students’ Political Association (NUSPA) allowed him to fulfil this interest and simultaneously challenge himself beyond his academic focus. Involved in NUSPA for nearly his entire undergraduate life, he took on a multitude of roles in the student group including Project Director of the ASEAN Forum, Creative Director for their print collaterals, Vice President and finally President.

As NUSPA President, he led a team of student leaders who facilitated a variety of dialogues and forms of engagement to increase political awareness among students. These included forums such as the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum and the Social Policies Forum. During his stint, Elston also forged close relationships with external partners like the People’s Association Youth Movement and REACH.

The work with NUSPA was fulfilling and always engaging, Elston shared, adding that it was a source of mental breaks from his coursework whenever he felt overwhelmed. He particularly relished the chances to mentor junior project directors. “It was through this that I realised I wanted to dedicate my time as President to build up a culture of sharing and mentoring within NUSPA, and create an environment that encouraged project directors to learn from one another,” he said.

I went through immense personal growth and learnt so much — about myself, about leadership and about politics and current affairs. Moreover, I benefitted from a close-knitted community of fellow students from all walks of life and faculties who came together with a similar purpose.

Elston’s journey through NUSPA was one of self-discovery. “I went through immense personal growth and learnt so much — about myself, about leadership and about politics and current affairs. Moreover, I benefitted from a close-knitted community of fellow students from all walks of life and faculties who came together with a similar purpose,” he said.

A moment with State President and NUS Chancellor Madam Halimah Yacob in March last year is a particularly cherished memory. The team had treated her to a cup of tea at the food court in NUS University Town when she was the Guest-of-Honour for the Chancellor’s Challenge Shield organised by NUSPA. “There she was, a likely President of Singapore, chatting with us without any minders in sight! She was well-read on everyday topics, from the rising cost of medicines to the emerging nationalism,” Elston recounted.

In his third year of study, Elston joined the Community Health Angels Mentoring Programme (CHAMP) as a volunteer. Started in 2014, CHAMP sees NUS Pharmacy students making regular home visits to patients with chronic illnesses as part of an intervention programme together with trained pharmacists and social workers. After six months as a volunteer, the natural leader approached NUS Pharmacy lecturer Dr Yap Kai Zhen, the programme coordinator to propose a student committee. “A student committee would be able to engage successive batches of Pharmacy students in recruiting volunteers, take over the training for these volunteers, and manage client visit records in a systematic way. The committee would also be in an excellent position to help organise or support medication awareness campaigns in the community,” he said.

The first ever steering committee was launched on January 2017 with Elston taking the position of Vice-Chair (Data Management & Outreach).

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Elston (centre) with his peers at the Student Leaders Camp organised by NUSSU

Aside from CHAMP and NUSPA, the go-getter also had a hand in the NUS Pharmacy Flag Committee, the NUS Pharmaceutical Society and was elected as the NUS Students’ Union Council Chairperson in September 2017.

Being a valedictorian has left him honoured and humbled, he shared. “I view the valedictory as a duty to the class and to those who contributed to our success in their many ways.…I am proud to represent a diverse community of people who lived life boldly, with talents in the Pharmacy field and beyond, with some of us beating the international competition for patient counselling, publishing our first papers while others sing at gigs, win photography competitions or volunteer on their weekends,” Elston declared.

Currently a Pre-registration Pharmacist at the National University Hospital, Elston is working towards earning his license and becoming a clinical pharmacist.

He is optimistic about his future career, saying, “I have a passion for patient care and I think that it is vital that we first understand the needs of our patients, in order to identify key areas where we can contribute to their lives with the greatest impact. I do also hope to seek out life mentors for the lessons and career guidance that they are willing to share.”