For all the talk on "life beyond grades", Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) is certainly walking the walk.
Joven Chiam Wen Ying, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Finance under the Work-Study Degree (WSDeg) programme, did not expect to be awarded the prestigious SUSS Scholarship. The unexpected offer and his scholarship application journey made him realise the distinction of an SUSS education.
"One thing I have learned is that SUSS is not just looking for academically-driven individuals," he said. He added that the bond-free scholarship allows students to pursue a career of choice upon graduation.
"The university is looking for individuals who excel holistically, those who not only score well, but also actively participate in co-curricular activities and have the heart to give back to society."
Joven is one such individual, exemplifying the SUSS ethos of self-directed study through active participation in community engagement and finance-related competitions.
It is the unique education philosophy of SUSS that made all this possible, as he narrated his journey as an SUSS Scholar and where he hopes to go.
Joven's interest in finance was awakened when he managed his personal finances as a student, stretching his allowance to last him through the months. A stint in DBS Bank after his National Service (NS) reaffirmed his conviction that this was the career for him, where he could help others navigate the difficult financial world.
"My journey in finance to date has been fulfilling and enriching. It has allowed me to be in a position that makes a direct, positive impact on people's lives and help them preserve their wealth," he explained.
This dedication to serve others naturally led him to SUSS, as he was particularly impressed with how the university inculcated a sense of community in its students.
He outlined three main reasons for choosing SUSS: "SUSS advocates lifelong learning and provides opportunities for this, which strongly aligns with my belief. Especially in the line of finance, where new products are introduced frequently and there is a dire need to constantly upgrade your knowledge. Also, SUSS doesn't just equip students with professional competencies, it ensures students are socially-conscious and have the heart to give back to society. Lastly, SUSS adopts an applied learning approach whereby students do not just attend classes to learn but also learn by actively applying theories."
Joven is currently enrolled in the Work- Study Degree (WSDeg) Programme, where students alternate between working a few days of the week in a partner company, and studying for the rest of the week. This allows students to be immersed in the work setting, acquiring vital skills on the ground and networking with industry peers.
The programme fits Joven to a T, encouraging self-motivated learning while maintaining a supportive student environment. "SUSS has a unique curriculum plan that trains an individual to practice lifelong learning."
"SUSS modules are conducted in six weeks, with only six face-to-face sessions. Students are also required to pass pre-course quizzes before being able to attend the lessons. The quizzes and limited number of face-to-face sessions push students to study on their own before attending lessons, which helps cultivate their habit to practice lifelong learning," he explained.
Complementing his academic journey at SUSS, Joven actively participated in finance competitions like the Deloitte Risk Intelligence Challenge 2019 and CFA Equity Research Challenge 19/20. He is a Student Mentor and Committee member as well, organising learning materials for underprivileged students. The scholarship also freed him to take up yet another community project, this time engaging polytechnic students to chart their learning journeys.
Juggling between all his activities might have been tough, were it not for the close-knit relationships between students and lecturers. Joven is always thankful to his professors and peers: "I remember during one of the competitions, my teammates and I worked through the night and delivered the presentation the following morning. SUSS lecturer, Dr Tan Eng Joo, was very supportive and stayed up with us through the night to provide us with feedback to improve our work."
"Overall, the culture in SUSS is very supportive. You get to bond with like-minded individuals who are driven and are passionate about giving back to society."
The SUSS Distinction
Another similarity in SUSS students is their eagerness to carve out a name for the university and for themselves, Joven shared. The university gives students the freedom to learn what they want and where they want, and in return, they are eager to spread the good word.
He himself is one such example. "Academic training in SUSS has provided me with the financial knowledge and my internship in financial audit and advisory firm Mazars also gave me real-life working experience on how to apply the knowledge."
"SUSS provided me with both the knowledge and the chance to apply the knowledge. This makes me even more confident in achieving my aspirations."
As a university with multiple industry partners and about 80 undergraduate and graduate programmes, SUSS is the place for the independent-minded student. "Students who believe that professional competencies are as important as making a positive impact in their community should consider SUSS," Joven concluded.
This article was first published in BrightSparks February 2021 e-Magazine. Republished with permission from CareerBuilder Singapore.