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NTU – The NTU Valedictorian


Not being bonded, Velda Khoo is glad that she has more flexibility in her career path.

Why did you choose this scholarship? 
When I first entered the ­university as a freshman, I had no idea what it would bring me, and the Nanyang Scholarship, which does not come with a bond, offers me the greatest autonomy and freedom in choosing what I want to do after graduation. Now, after four years of training as a linguist, I have decided to continue pursuing my passion in the field.

Who or what influenced you to take up this scholarship?
Before entering university, I was torn between going to NTU on the Nanyang Scholarship, and taking a place in an Australian university. My mother played a big role in my decision to go to NTU with the scholarship, and four years down, I ­believe I had made the right choice, with the ­support I have received from the university.

What do you think makes the scholarship stand out from the other available scholarships?  How has the scholarship suited your personality and interests?
I am attracted to the Nanyang Scholarship for these reasons. Sense of community. Do not under-estimate the community support of fellow scholars, especially for those who just come in. With about a hundred new freshmen scholars every year, and seniors in every level, there will always be fellow scholars to give you support and encouragement when you are struggling with schoolwork. These people form an important network in your life and you will be glad you have them throughout and after your university life.

Autonomy. Being without bond, the possibilities are truly endless. I have known fellow scholars who continue with further studies, some found jobs in acclaimed companies in their areas of specialisation, and some have ventured into other areas of interests. I do think that the four years in university give you new insights into life, and new paths would always present themselves. Not having a bond with any specific company gives you that opportunity to explore further.

Support. The Office of Admissions & Financial Aid is an amazing department, and over the years I have been touched at the amount of support they offer us, and how they have constantly strive to provide better scholarship benefits and funding for the scholars’ activities such as leadership training camp. The feedback we give to the department are valued and this encourages us to play an active role in any major event hosted by the Nanyang Scholars, including the annual freshmen orientation camps and the Nanyang Scholarship award ceremonies. There are always ample opportunities to lead and play a role in organising activities for fellow scholars, and this could not have been achieved without the tireless support of the NTU staff.

What do you think are your strengths that landed you the scholarship?
Well, I guess it would be the ability to work well in teams. When I was in the Polytechnic, group work is a big part of our syllabus and learning to work well with people is an important skill that translate into our grades as well.

What qualities are essential to get this scholarship?
Besides good grades, you would ­definitely want to create a good ­impression at the interview. I believe if you are ­confident and can present your thoughts and goals in life succinctly you should be able to impress!

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
I would not say I lead a crazy life, but to me, travelling alone in the US was pretty crazy. I spent about a week taking trains and exploring places I never thought that I would go. I have met very nice and very crazy people in the journeys. These ­experiences have helped me grow as a ­person, and I do treasure them.

Who are some of your idols and why?
Well, I do not usually see people I ­admire as my idols, but I do respect a lot of people who are close to me for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, I appreciate my mother, for her tenacity and how she had single-handedly raised my brother and I all these years. I also admire my chef friends whom I met while working part-time in the Raffles Hotel, for their ability to overcome obstacles and make a name for themselves in the hospitality industry.

But if I had to choose one person, I would say Professor Luke Kang Kwong (KK), my FYP supervisor. In my four years in NTU I grew to admire his research, and ­subsequently developed my own ­interests in that same field. KK is an ­eminent ­professor in Linguistics, but he always found time to guide me in my research, and I really cannot thank him enough.

Tell us about being the valedictorian.
The position of a valedictorian is one that is chosen through a voting process, and I am really thankful to my friends who gave me a lot of support. It is a big honour, and I am really grateful for the opportunity to be able to speak on behalf of the people I have been studying with for the past four years. There are things I believe we should take away from our education in NTU, and hopefully I would be able to give a meaningful speech come convocation day.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
In five years’ time, I hope to obtain a PhD in Linguistics and be able to publish my ideas and research to the world.

Nanyang Scholar
Attained: Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) in Linguistics and Multilingual Studies
Now: Graduate student at University of Colorado Boulder
From: Nanyang Polytechnic (Diploma with Merit in media Studies and management)