Jul 9, 2013

NUS Commencement 2013

I thought I made it in time for my ceremony at 3pm, but my anxiety arose as soon as I started to notice most of the graduates there have had their gown put on and photos taken already. One of the worst scenarios you can have on your convocation is raining. The University Cultural Centre is moreover somewhere so isolated in NUS that my family and I had to walk through the drizzle and my sister and I utilized my gown bag to shelter ourselves, so battered...

Like me, everyone was excited about officially graduating from NUS on that day, the 4th graduation ceremony of the NUS Commencement 2013, attended by graduates from the following programmes:
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Singapore-MIT Alliance)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Materials Science and Engineering)
  • Master of Engineering (Materials Science and Engineering)
  • Master of Science (Materials Science and Engineering)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Materials Science and Engineering)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering)
I'm a graduate from the last programme in the list. Immediately Wilsen guided me to the robing room to get changed, and I realized that white shirt goes absolutely well with a silver necktie. We then went into the theatre and I was seated on row P seat 15, and argh... now I know how girls feel like sitting down with a dress on.

My first time singing Majulah Singapura at a public occasion after staying here for 4 years.

The degree scroll presented on the stage is just an empty tube and I was given the real degree scroll and official transcript in an envelope with a hard folder along the side corridor. A photo of me holding the 'degree scroll' was also taken there and it's sold for $8.

Speech by valedictorian
It was rather a long and boring session as hundreds of graduates were called one by one to receive their respective scrolls. However at some point in time you can enjoy watching some graduates doing stunts on stage, like turning one round before shaking the dean's hand or camwhoring with the dean using a polaroid.

I think it's important for every valedictorian to have a sense of humour apart from academic excellence, otherwise I was just sitting for a speech by a nerd. I wasn't really paying much attention to the valedictorian in the ceremony but I remember he mentioned something like, "life without goals is just like thermodynamics without steam table", that's quite applicable to all of us there, as we the engineers understand the joke.

At the closing of the ceremony, the blue and orange balloons hung at the ceiling were dropped after the party poppers exploded. It reminds me of the days when I first entered NUS because the exact same thing happened at the closing of the Freshmen Inauguration Ceremony I attended in my first year, also at UCC.

Just realized that my parents were seated upstairs when this was taken.

My first younger brother wasn't there as he was preparing for his exam at TARC.

My brother (11 years younger than me)       My sister (1 year younger than me)

I call this group "JaSonWiLiaCalSan", the ones who went Batam together in March.

The historical moment: 7 of us, the housemates who've been staying under the same roof for a month finally gathered and took a group photo together for the very first time. I'm looking forward to more of such gatherings.

Housemates + Neighbour: Susan (left) is staying a block away from us

Susan        Alison

Emilia        Shu Hui

Calvin        Wei Thye & Harry

Lik Ling        Bailey

Jared        Justin & Ryan


My brother is so cute!!

The I WAS HERE sculpture is somewhat spectacular in the campus. Often you'll see newcomers taking photos there as they pass by during campus tour. There's an imaginary queue for the attraction when it dramatically turns popular among the graduates during the commencement period.

And finally, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, my degree scroll!
Ya, I don't have a first class honours, and getting a first class honours from NUS virtually happens when a pig flies, especially for a typical undergraduate like me. However being able to attain a second upper class honours is pretty much more than sufficient for me to be extremely grateful of, more than what it takes to be satisfactory, as I spent a lot of time in CCAs.

I am greatly blessed for all this, but still, STILL, I have this rant that I've been wanting to address - I am extremely dissatisfied that I wasn't offered the ASEAN scholarship, or any other scholarships. I wasn't even granted the NUS donated scholarship when my CAP is higher than 4.00. What makes the others with CAP lower than me or those who received warning letters from the MOE because they couldn't attain the CAP of 3.50 and above deserve the scholarship while I don't?! What's the point of getting good grades and graduate with loans that one has to spend years repaying while those scholars with bad grades graduate with all their monthly income going entirely into their pockets?

Dear scholars, I apologize if you feel offended, and if you see this, please don't get mad, but please feel blessed, please appreciate and stop complaining about not being able to graduate with a good class of honours or low salary, if you do. You all are technically a few ten thousand dollars richer than those who survived on loans. To me, having a scholarship is like one of the best blessings you can get throughout your university life, think about it, free tertiary education with allowance, and this is Asia, not Europe where you can get free tertiary education. You basically have less financial worries than those who need to work part-time while studying.

Well, I guess what I should convey is, whatever board of scholarship or the university has the responsibility to elevate the standard of reviewing process before even calling prospective students for the scholarship interview, or provide incentives to those who did well academically.

"The University is committed to providing a quality education for all our students and to ensuring that no deserving student is denied admissions because of financial difficulty."
from NUS Website (Financial Aid Overview)
This is true, and the solution is mainly based on loans, but what about deserving students for scholarship? Is it fair that scholarship is granted based on pre-university performance but not based on the one in NUS itself? If a prospective student with CGPA of 4.00 was called for a scholarship interview, isn't it unfair that the other one with the same CGPA wasn't called? On what bloody basis seriously? I'm not yet talking about the scholarship grant, but just the preliminary part of it - the interview. So many deserving ones weren't even given a chance to be interviewed.
Because of quota? I think the quota is on the grant of scholarship, not the interview. Why is everyone not given an equal chance of being interviewed based on their academic and extra curricular performance? Not to boast, but besides gaining international participation and achievement in CCAs when I was in high school, I scored A for every single subject and paper in STPM ('A' level equivalent), yet I didn't even get called for any interviews.
Because of time? Then why bother spending time interviewing the prospective students? Come on, it's been years, can't the board evaluate for a better compromise?

I think I shall end this. Again, I apologize. Thank you for allowing me to appeal right here, as I've been placing these within myself for a very long time. I thank God for all these wonderful things, and without His guidance, no miracle like this will ever happen. I know I can't do anything much regarding my rant, because I believe unfairness exists everywhere in everyone's life, sometimes he/she has no choice but to suck it up.

I would like to hereby give my blessings to all the existing students in NUS and to the prospective ones as well. May you excel in all your future undertakings.

Last but not least, I would like to dedicate a song to you all, a song that I wish to sing during my graduation ceremony, sadly I'm not from a Japan university. The song is called 手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ~ or Tegami (Haikei Jūgo no Kimi e). The prelude is the Japanese graduation ceremony song called Aogeba tōtoshi (仰げば尊し).

For more photos, please check out my photo album NUS Commencement 2013 on Facebook.

Javin Tham MSc, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB, CQPA, CQIA, MSOE, MIPlantE Industrie 4.0 Consultant | Pop Piano Coach | YouTube Coverist


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