Left: Nicholas Chan is a NUS Merit Scholar in his third year pursuing a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) at NUS. He has a Diploma in Nursing from Nanyang Polytechnic.
Right: Choy Rui Zhi is a NUS Merit Scholar in his third year pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (Architecture) at NUS. He has a Diploma in Architecture from Singapore Polytechnic.
National University of Singapore (NUS) enjoys an eminent position as a leading global university, ranked first in Asia Pacific according to QS World University Rankings 2021. It believes in shaping the future through its students by providing rigorous education, research and entrepreneurship opportunities to develop tomorrow's change-makers.
Another avenue of support is the prestigious NUS Merit Scholarship, a coveted award presented to high-calibre individuals who demonstrate excellence in academics, CCAs and other leadership abilities.
Choy Rui Zhi and Nicholas Chan, NUS Merit Scholars, went in-depth into the NUS experience and what it offers for your future.
Firstly, why did you each chose NUS?
Rui Zhi: I started my academic journey with a Diploma in Architecture (DARCH) from SP, which was a fruitful experience. I decided to pursue my studies beyond polytechnic as I believed that architecture is a life-long journey.
Historically, NUS Architecture has a long history with the SP DARCH program. They both share a strongly grounded comprehensive education that focuses on honing the fundamentals of design with emphasis on the design developmental process. This connection convinced me that NUS Architecture was the place for further education.
Nicholas: When I first began planning to study Medicine, I was in Secondary 3 or 4. That was in 2012, and back then NUS was the only place in Singapore to study Medicine at the undergraduate level.
Overseas options were out of the question because my family cannot afford it, so I was thankful to have found NUS.
So, Rui Zhi, you are still doing Architecture as you did in polytechnic. How do the university and polytechnic education differ?
Rui Zhi: Unlike the year-long architectural project at SP DARCH, NUS Architecture constitutes more critical and intensive projects that span across a period of 13 weeks, along with many new electives that I needed to take alongside my main design project.
In Nicholas' case, you studied Nursing in polytechnic, and you are now pursuing Medicine in university. This feels like a big transition. How has it been for you pursuing a slightly different discipline?
Nicholas: Honestly, I think Nursing and Medicine are two sides of the same coin. While commonly seen as tiers in a hierarchy, a healthier and far more accurate way of seeing them would be as brother and sister in the same family. In this analogy, the "family" would be healthcare. Both disciplines work together for the benefit of the patient.
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Also, congratulations on being awarded the NUS Merit Scholarship! How does it feel?
Rui Zhi: As a NUS Scholar, I felt a sense of responsibility for me to contribute to the school community and society as much as I can. For example, apart from the Seeds of Good Programme which I plan and execute a community project alongside other scholars, I play an active role in my school committee at NUS Architecture.
Nicholas: Being bond-free, the NUS Merit Scholarship is an incredible scholarship which I am immensely lucky to have been offered.
My gratitude cannot be expressed in words. Without the financial assistance of the scholarship, I would have no chance of even pursuing a university education in Singapore, let alone the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) at NUS.
Tell us about the non-academic activities at NUS that has enriched your experience at the university?
Rui Zhi: Apart from academics, I participate in a student-led architectural society called The Architecture Society Together, we plan, develop and construct exhibitions showcasing student works. This year, we are having an exhibition called ArchiVAL 21 which will be exhibiting in December 2021.
Nicholas: Staying on-campus at Prince George's Park Residences was an amazing experience. I made a few friends there whose support helped me establish a good exercise routine which I still abide by today, though I no longer stay near them.
Is there anybody from the university who has inspired you?
Rui Zhi: Under the tutelage of my design tutor, I was pushed beyond my design boundaries and was inspired by my tutor's dedication towards teaching. I also had the opportunity to observe the sacrifices our tutor made for his students, which inspired me to improve myself.
Nicholas: I would like to thank all my batch mates. Time and time again, I am humbled by their intelligence and their work ethic. The societal stereotype of medical students from "elite" backgrounds should not subtract from acknowledging their diligence and capacity to strive.
Rui Zhi was featured in 93.8 radio show in 2018, where he shared his designs for the future of housing in Singapore.
Lastly, a word of advice for those looking to study at NUS?
Rui Zhi: As an architect, we are given power that influences the way we live. With this power, comes greater responsibility. I believe that if you want to pursue your education at NUS Architecture, you will have to bear this responsibility wholeheartedly. It is a life-long quest that starts with wanting to contribute back to society through design.
Nicholas: Do not be disheartened if you do not get the course you want. There are often more routes to a destination than we realise!