NUS honours 35 alumni for outstanding contributions to alma mater and society

Former Singapore President Madam Halimah Yacob conferred NUS Eminent Alumni Award

The National University of Singapore (NUS) honoured the achievements of 21 outstanding alumni and three alumni teams comprising another 14 alumni, at the prestigious NUS Alumni Awards 2023.

Held biennially since 2005, the Awards recognise alumni who have distinguished themselves through significant and impactful contributions to their alma mater, society and the world. The Awards were presented in four categories: the Eminent Alumni Award, the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, the Outstanding Young Alumni Award and the Team (Alumni) Award.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “On behalf of the University, I would like to extend our heartiest congratulations to this year’s 35 award recipients. Their remarkable accomplishments across a diversity of fields – from government, business, arts and culture to sustainability and mental wellness – serve as inspiration to the NUS community and Singapore. We celebrate how they have exemplified the NUS values of innovation, resilience, excellence, respect, and integrity, and served as torch bearers of distinguished and outstanding service for future generations of NUS graduates.”

Eminent Alumni Award 2023 Recipient – Mdm Halimah Yacob

This year, NUS conferred the Eminent Alumni Award on former President of the Republic of Singapore Mdm Halimah Yacob for her achievements in public service, as well as her exemplary service to the University as the former and 10th Chancellor of NUS. The eighth President of the Republic of Singapore, Mdm Halimah Yacob has spent her career advancing the lives of individuals and communities, particularly the underprivileged.

After obtaining her Bachelor of Laws in 1978 from the University of Singapore, she joined the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), where she advised unions and workers on industrial relations and their employment rights. She spent 33 years with the labour movement, rising to the position of Deputy Secretary-General of NTUC. In 1999, Mdm Halimah became the first Singaporean to be elected to the Geneva-based International Labour Organisation (ILO), where she served for 12 years, representing workers globally. 

Making her political debut in the 2001 General Election, Mdm Halimah served as a Member of Parliament from 2001 to 2017. She was appointed Minister of State for Community Development and Sports in 2011, where she introduced programmes for seniors and enhanced services for the disabled, including the Enabling Village. In 2013, Mdm Halimah became the first woman in Singapore to be appointed Speaker of Parliament. This was followed by another first in 2017 when she was sworn in as the country’s first female President.

As President, Mdm Halimah continued to give a strong voice to the disadvantaged, while also promoting social cohesion and inclusivity. She initiated the Empowering for Life Fund, to help disadvantaged groups through measures such as upskilling; the Enabling Employment Pledge, which saw over 280 employers commit to training and placing people with disabilities; as well as the first International Conference on Cohesive Societies, which brought people, local and international, together to discuss topics such as faith, culture and identity. 

She continued her education, obtaining her Master of Laws from NUS in 2001. As a member of the NUS Council from 2004, and later the NUS Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2011, Mdm Halimah often stressed the importance of helping students in need of financial aid access a wide range of programmes. In 2017, she became the 10th Chancellor of NUS, where she conferred close to 76,000 undergraduate, masters, doctorate, and honorary degrees over six years and presided over the Main Commencement ceremonies for graduates and honorary graduates.

Mdm Halimah’s outstanding leadership and contributions have been recognised through the years with many accolades and awards, including the Berita Harian Achiever of the Year Award 2001, Her World Woman of the Year Award 2003, and AWARE Heroine Award 2011. She was also inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2016, NUS bestowed upon her its highest honours, conferring on her the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. She also received the Order of Temasek (With High Distinction), the nation’s highest civilian honour, in 2023. 

“I am deeply honoured to receive the Eminent Alumni Award from my alma mater. NUS has played a formative role in my life, shaping not only my academic development but the values I have carried throughout my career,” said Mdm Halimah.

Distinguished Alumni Service Recipients

Eight NUS alumni were conferred the Distinguished Alumni Service Award for their achievements in their chosen fields, as well as their excellent volunteer service to NUS, its predecessor institutions and/or the community.

These recipients were:

  • Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Distinguished Fellow at NUS Asia Research Institute
  • Mr Kok Heng Leun, founder of the Drama Box theatre group
  • Ms Janet Lim Yuen Kheng, former Assistant High Commissioner (Operations) at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • Justice Andrew Phang Boon Leong, Senior Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore
  • Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore
  • Mr Brian Tan Kai Piang, Regional President of Applied Materials Southeast Asia
  • Mr Wong Kan Seng, former Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore
  • Mr Yatiman Bin Yusof, High Commissioner of Singapore to Kenya and Malay language champion

Outstanding Young Alumni Award Recipients

Twelve young NUS alumni were honoured for their achievements and outstanding contributions to their chosen fields.

These recipients were:

  • Dr Aishwarya Bandla, Regional R&D Manager at Paxman Coolers
  • Ms Akanksha Batura Pai, Head of Strategy and Growth at Sinoda Shipping Agency
  • Dr Rena Dharmawan, Assistant Dean and Assistant Professor at Duke-NUS Medical School
  • Mr Faris Bin Ridzuan, academic tutor at the National University of Singapore
  • Dr Izzuddin Bin Mohd Aris, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Institute
  • Mr Khoo Yi Feng, social worker and mental health advocate
  • Mr Kwok Ka Ming Andre, founder of Good City Foundation
  • Mr Samson Leo, Chief Legal Officer of Fazz
  • Mr Raghuram Natarajan, Chief Executive Officer of Blueleaf Energy
  • Mr Seah Li Song Shawn, local history author
  • Dr Shravan Verma, Co-founder of Speedoc
  • Ms Frances Tho Siao Ting, Vice President of Sales at Numerix

Team (Alumni) Award Recipients

The Team (Alumni) Award recognises the outstanding achievements of alumni teams who have collectively distinguished themselves in their chosen fields.

These recipients were:

  • Co-founders of Growthbeans: Ms Shamantha Yan Shiya and Ms Shane Yan Shiyan
  • Co-founders of Janio Asia: Mr Ng Jun Kai and Mr Nathaniel Asher Yim
  • REACH (Response, Early Intervention and Assessment in Community mental Health) Team, Institute of Mental Health: Ms Esther Chew Yuki, Dr Daniel Fung Shuen Sheng, Mr Ho Weng Siong, Ms Li Jiaying Grace, Mr Ong Guo Xiong Jeffrey, Ms Ong Tze-I Cheryl, Ms Sim Si Lin, Ms Tan Ke Jia, Mr Tan Zheng Xin, Jason and Ms Kelly Yeo