The NUS Global Merit Scholarship keeps career options wide and free from obligations for students. Wesley Kam uses this freedom to rediscover how he can give back to the community.
Why did you choose to pursue your course of study at NUS?
For the longest time leading up to university, I had planned to study Law. I had a rather idealistic dream of wanting to stand up for the marginalized. Due to my strengths in writing and speaking, I thought it was only natural. However, during my National Service years leading up to matriculation, I caught a glimpse of people in different fields, including church ministry, civil servants, freelance journalists and writers making an impact in their respective journeys. This widened my perspectives to consider that making a difference in people’s lives could go beyond my field of study, that wherever I was planted, it was possible to plant seeds of change. Going a step further, I realized that making a difference could start now, and didn’t need to wait until after I entered a vocational field. This led me to consider courses with lighter workloads in comparison to Law, that would allow me to be equipped for the future, and gave me more time to commit to other meaningful projects outside of school. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences was a great place to start, combining my aforementioned strengths and giving me the liberty to use my time to make a difference. The general degree also kept my options open for a vocation that would best fit my aspirations.
Why did you accept the NUS Scholarship?
The two most attractive benefits were the accommodation allowance and the bond-free nature of the scholarship. The accommodation allowance allowed me to stay on campus with minimal costs and allowed for school to seamlessly fit into the bigger picture of my life without the hassle of travelling. This opportunity to stay on campus also allowed me to live in close proximity with my peers, building deep and meaningful relationships, and learning from one another. The bond-free nature of the scholarship has given me the freedom to discover my passions, making education more of an adventure than a paper chase. As mentioned before, I do believe that making a difference starts now, so holidays without compulsory internships or attachments have really given me that opportunity to discover where my passions and strengths intersect.
What was the selection process like?
It was a pleasant surprise! Writing the personal essay gave me greater conviction for what I wanted to do with my life in university, and I’m glad that despite my honesty, those in charge of selecting took a bet on me. The interviews I have attended were refreshing, with minimal questions on my abilities on paper, leaving me feeling like they were genuinely interested. We went off tangent during one the interviews with the deans, ending up talking about football and the tactical and organizational genius behind team management. It was an honour to know I wasn’t selected purely based on what I could offer, but who I am as a person.
Why do you think you were awarded the scholarship, and what are the qualities a scholar should possess?
I think I was awarded the scholarship not because I tried to hard-sell myself, but rather because I present- ed my convictions as I knew them intimately. I believe a scholar needs to be authentic with his/her convictions, for that is where one’s motivations come from. Other than that, I think it is important to see that we are not entitled to such a scholarship, and the entailing question in our heads should point us to how we can make full use of the scholarship to supplement our convictions and hence motivations.
What are the benefits of taking up an NUS Scholarship?
It liberates me in so many ways. I need not worry about tuition and accommodation fees, and unlike other scholarships, I don’t have to worry about the time taken from me during holidays. The networking system where scholars can go for the same events has also allowed me to widen my social circle with people passionate in their own fields!
How has your NUS experience been, and what programmes and activities have you participated in so far?
In my Residential College, the College of Alice & Peter Tan, I’m part of a team going to Yunnan in 2019 for a service-learning project, in which I am jointly in charge of planning programmes for the children. It’s been a joy working with like-minded peers.
KAM WEI LEE WESLEY
NUS Global Merit Scholarship
Now: Year 1, Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore
From: Nanyang Junior College