Three batches of graduates from Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre reunite at first physical graduation event in three years

Three batches of alumni and graduating fellows from the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre (CTPCLC) celebrated the completion of their community development and leadership programme on a Saturday morning at the Centre’s first in-person graduation event since 2019.

An event held annually since the first batch of fellows graduated in 2013, it welcomed the Classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022 who gathered at the Centre in high spirits, excited to see one another in a homecoming and reunion of sorts. CTPCLC provides a unique leadership programme – including a minor and certificate programme and practicums – to nurture Singapore’s next generation of community leaders.

The event was graced by Dr Chua Thian Poh, a champion of community and social services who funded the launch of the programme in 2011, and NUS Senior Vice Provost (Undergraduate Education) Professor Bernard Tan.  It was attended by 32 graduates and alumni.

Ms Roxanne Kwek, an alumna of CTPCLC from the Class of 2020, expressed her gratitude to the Centre for nurturing its students in a holistic learning and growing environment. Describing her CTPCLC experience as an “enriching one”, Roxanne shared that she had benefitted from her journey with professors and mentors at CTPCLC who “really believe in developing the communities in a way that is sustainable, and recognise the value and strengths that people bring.”

“I am really glad to be called a fellow here – to have learnt what I’ve learnt and embarked on so many interesting opportunities through this programme. This is something I really treasure about my university experience.”

Along with being a place of many opportunities, the Centre is one where people were at the heart of the programme, she said.  “I had a lot of fun doing so many different things in CTPCLC – from emceeing, attending symposiums to research practicum. I really saw that the hearts were centred around the people, and that they come from a very genuine place.”

Shaping the course of a journey

During the event, CTPCLC student fellows shared how their learning experiences have shaped them personally and the work they do today. Alumni described how they found safe spaces within the Centre to discuss sensitive and at times controversial social topics, as well as a conducive environment which allowed them to contextualise world issues, and understand more deeply how macro issues can impact and trickle down to affect local communities.

Associate Professor Chng Huang Hoon, Director of CTPCLC, said, “My team and I are very proud that CTPCLC fellows have persevered in the face of pandemic restrictions and continued to engage communities in need. This graduation marks an incredibly meaningful milestone for our fellows, as they have learnt not just about community development and leadership, but also resilience and empathy, through their work with different communities during these challenging times.”

“Like proud parents, we look forward to seeing them develop further as they step out of NUS, and take their first steps in forging a career in community building and engagement in Singapore and beyond,” she added.

At the event, the CTPCLC community – comprising faculty members, social sector partners and fellows from the programme – shared a diversity of insights and takeways. The discussions were yet another demonstration of their dedication and passion to create a positive impact and concrete change within their communities.

This year’s event was made even more special through the involvement of student volunteers from CTPCLC, who responded to an opportunity to co-organise the event in collaboration with staff members. Volunteers Alyssa Hoon, Ng Mei Ting, Samihah Niquat Safeel and Willoughby Niki Lee played an integral role by taking on various duties such as emceeing, designing the alumni T-shirt, and preparing a specially handcrafted token of appreciation for Dr Chua.

Ms Samihah from the Class of 2022, who was Master of Ceremonies for the graduation event, shared that her contribution was “a chance to further develop myself and the community that welcomed me with open arms, and gave me a lot of space to experiment, make mistakes and grow. "

"The event was a large reunion with the CTPCLC family, which I thoroughly enjoyed!” she enthused.

By Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre