Meet Incoming Freshman of SMU 2023 – Nadia Vong

By the SMU Digital Marketing Team 

Every now and then, we encounter experiences that are nothing short of transformational.

For incoming SMU College of Integrative Studies (CIS) freshman Nadia Vong, that life-changing moment was embodied by an inspiring teacher in secondary school.

“My Year 1 History teacher changed the way I perceived learning,” shares the Malaysian student, who had received a scholarship to pursue her studies in Singapore.

“Before that, I thought that History was all about memorising facts and following exam formats. But my teacher taught me that ‘studying a subject is about how you train your thinking, and how you view the world and the past around it.’

This made me relook at my own learning style. It’s not just about understanding the subject, but also how I develop myself as a person.”

This attitude towards learning pervades SMU’s interactive pedagogy, where classes are not about helping students to memorise facts that are to be regurgitated come exam time. Rather, smaller seminar-style classes encourage active discussion and participation so students have the opportunity to truly understand the subject matter being covered from different approaches.


Quote by Nadia Vong


Creating lasting impact through service

Perhaps influenced by the impactful guidance she’s received, the River Valley High School graduate radiates a passion for mentorship and taking care of her juniors.

“In the beginning, I was the youngest international student at my boarding school, since most of my peers normally come to Singapore at 15 or 16 to study,” she shares.

“When I became the most senior in the circle, I thought to myself – why not organise activities to help other students like me feel more at home?”

Nadia took it upon herself to plan events such as reunion dinners for those who couldn’t make it home during the Lunar New Year, as well as learning journeys, workshops, and games days at the hostel. Today, she is proud of how her juniors have continued the tradition of organising learning journeys for a new batch of scholars.

This selfless and giving spirit will find a welcoming home at SMU, where community service has been deeply embedded in the university’s DNA since its founding.

As Nadia adds: “Creating lasting impact helps me to appreciate the value I can bring to people through service.”


Designing her own path

Of all the reasons that Nadia chose SMU, the most significant one is probably the unique opportunities made available at CIS. The first of its kind in Singapore, CIS allows students to design their own major.

Nadia has opted for the ​​Deferred Declaration of Degree programme at CIS, under which students can enrol without pre-committing to a specific degree programme. This opens up the opportunity for students to explore their interests and talents with various Core Curriculum courses, as well as disciplinary courses from other SMU Schools, before making an informed decision on their final degree specialisation. On admission, students will be able to reserve seats in up to two degree programmes across the different SMU Schools.

“When I ask myself what I want to do with my future, I realise that I’m not quite decided. I jumped at the opportunity offered by the Deferred Declaration of Degree programme, because it gives me space to grow outside of a selected specialisation, and allows me to make a better-informed choice later on in my studies.”

As an avid museum goer, Nadia has all the more reason to love SMU’s location.

“With its accessibility, as well as the proximity to museums in the city area, I can look forward to even more impromptu museum visits,” she gushes.

But besides its location right in the heart of Singapore’s heritage district, Nadia believes that the campus culture at SMU is exactly what she craves. “From my perspective, SMU is vibrant and welcoming. It feels like most of the students are outgoing, and the vibe and location just feel like the right fit for me.

I also feel that SMU’s culture makes for a conducive space to explore different uncertainties, and experiment in various ways, which I believe will help me to grow.”



Enjoy the flexibility of exploring your intellectual interests and talents before committing to a specific degree programme at the SMU College of Integrative Studies. Accept your offer before acceptance closes on 24 May 2023! 

Meet the other incoming freshmen of SMU 2023 here.