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A Busy First Year At NUS

nus_amitAmitkumar Gamane provides a close-up view of the scholarship application process and what scholars are like.

Why did you choose the NUS ­Scholarship?
From the vast range of scholarships available, I picked the NUS Scholarship primarily due to its flexibility. It is bond-free which means that I do not have to commit to a specific organisation or career path. I want to spend my university years exploring different interests and disciplines alongside my academic work.

This would give me time to figure out my strengths and possibly bump into previously unknown interests. Apart from the financial freedom, I knew that the scholarship would possibly offer invaluable opportunities to develop as a student especially since it is administered by the university.

What was the selection process like?
The scholarship itself was relatively easy to apply for as there was a direct prompt right after you complete the online NUS admissions application. However, it was during the interview rounds where I felt I learnt the most.

I went through two rounds of interviews and I appreciate the fact that the interviewers made a genuine effort to know me. And they made me feel very comfortable during the interviews. During the final round with the Provost and the various faculty deans, the interview somewhat turned into a friendly debate. Sure, there were typical questions being asked but the flow of ideas during the interview made it feel like an exhilarating intellectual scuffle. On hindsight, I think verbalising some of my thoughts and discussing them with the interviewers in an open manner helped me learn more about myself and I thank NUS for that opportunity.

Why do you think you were awarded the scholarship, and what are the qualities that a scholar should possess?
After going through the selection process and interacting with fellow scholars, it became apparent that there wasn’t a specific mould that a ‘scholar’ should fit into. Everyone was unique and varied in their interests be it academic or otherwise.

However, some qualities seemed to be common such as being a team player, the ability to think on your feet and having the will to better your world starting with the simplest of efforts. During the camp that was organised for freshmen scholars, I could see that everyone was genuinely concerned about advancing the group’s position, even if it meant some personal discomfort or ‘sacrifice’ was at hand. This only increased the respect that I had for my peers.

Also, I felt that while accolades and awards are important, being passionate and staying resilient despite failures are the real factors that count in the long run. I gathered that the selection committee valued such candidates and I was glad that I was able to demonstrate such qualities.

What are the benefits of taking up the NUS Scholarship?

The primary benefit of the NUS Scholarship would be the financial aspect along with it being bond-free. With my university expenses taken care of, it is a real blessing as I have minimal financial worries and can look to develop myself with the plethora of opportunities offered by NUS. This also gives me more time to explore my interests and possible career opportunities.

My first semester was hectic yet exciting, beginning with various orientation activities including a development camp for scholars at Kota Rainforest Resort. This was a memorable experience as we got to escape the humdrum of everyday life and enjoy nature and the company of our peers. Though most

would think being out of a handphone network range is unappealing, I found that people were more engaged in daily conversations than usual, which was refreshing.

Other avenues such as the NUSLead Forum exposed me to some of the interesting social enterprise projects that previous batches of students had embarked on and the speakers provided a lot of insight and encouragement.

The Office of Admissions is always open to ideas on possible enrichment activities and it is nice to know that we enjoy a high level of flexibility and support from the university. Furthermore, the Enrichment Grant for scholars co-funds any possible seminars or participation in international events. All this and more makes my coming years in NUS exciting and I look forward to them. Essentially, an NUS Scholarship promises an experience, one that will hone you for the better.

Tell us about your NUS experience, what programmes and activities have you participated in so far?
Despite being at NUS for only a semester so far, I feel that I have been enjoying the various facets of campus life.  My academic experience has been rigorous and has encouraged me to be a more critical thinker and gain a higher level of independence in my thinking.

During one of my modules, my team mates and I even won a Lego-styled robotics competition where we had to pit our robots against others! In another class on culture and cognition, we even got to dissect sheep brains (yes, it was mildly repulsive).

I also participated in the NUS-Shell Business Case Competition which was the first time I took part in such a competition. Needless to say, it was an eye-opening experience because of the chance to analyse a real-life company and its business.

Apart from that, staying on campus has had a big impact on my involvement as a student. Entering Tembusu College, I met the most interesting people with a diverse range of talents and interests. A defining characteristic of Tembusu College is its unique seminar-style classes where we get to explore topics through a multidisciplinary lens. These classes were of a different flavour than usual as I got to see how ideas from seemingly unrelated fields can come together.

We also regularly get prominent and interesting guest speakers at the college. I sat in a session with Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who gave a very open and candid talk on his views on education and the like.

In addition, being in the House Committee has given me opportunities to plan events for my house mates, making my stay even more colourful. I even got to perform live with a group of friends during ‘Pandemonium’, a combined UTown Halloween event! All this coupled with the friends I’ve made along the way, promises to make my journey as a student even more fulfilling.

NUS Global Merit Scholarship
Age: 21
Now: Pursuing double degrees in Computing and Business ­Administration at NUS
From: Victoria JC