Economics: Passion, drive, competency

Written by Ho Yan Yan, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business

Every school in SMU is defined by the students who are fiercely proud about belonging to their school. When you meet someone from the SMU School of Economics (SoE), the first thing that usually pops into your head is: “math genius”. Well, most of the time that is certainly true, but every Economics student is also shaped by their individual journeys in SMU. Today, we have Brenda Hong to share with you what studying Economics at SMU is like for her.


Meet Brenda!

Hi Brenda! Before we get into your SMU journey, could you tell us what prompted you to join SMU? 

Brenda: I think what spurred me to join SMU was the flexibility of the curriculum: the school gives us a lot of independence to plan our timetable and decide on the modules we want to take. This was important to me as I wanted something different from the usual structured and pre-planned curriculums in university. The convenience of having the school in town played a part too.

What does your average day look like? How many classes do you attend in a week and how many hours do you spend studying?

Brenda: I like morning classes, so my day typically starts at 8.15am. The morning seminar will end at 11.30am, and I will grab some lunch from school. My next seminar will start at 12pm if I have one, otherwise I will either be having a project/CCA meeting, or enjoying a longer lunch. I attend about five seminars a week, and since I have some days with two seminars, it also means that I have some weekdays without class. I get down to studying after I am done with my classes and projects, either at SoE or at home.

The Economics students staple food—aglio olio from Tea Party

The SMU Economics students’ staple food—aglio olio from Tea Party.

Wow, morning classes! You must be a very productive person, so tell us more. Which is your favourite study corner in your school building?

Brenda: That would definitely be at the corridors along the School of Economics—either on Levels 3, 4 or 5. The air-conditioned corridors have plenty of study benches and it is convenient to move around to other parts of the school from there.

Academics is a really important part of school life, so what do you think is the most unique feature of SMU’s teaching pedagogy? Any favourite classes so far?

Brenda: I think the most unique feature of SMU’s teaching pedagogy is the fact that we have a small class size. This is really helpful as we can have more interactions with the professors. Also, it has helped us students to get to know our classmates better: recognising and communicating with 44 other people is definitely much easier than doing so with hundreds of people in a big hall. I have enjoyed my university core modules like Business, Government and Society, as well as my economics modules such as Introduction to Statistical Theory.


A typical Seminar Room in SMU.

How do you think the grading of class participation has influenced the class dynamics? 

Brenda: Class participation grades have improved the class dynamics. It has definitely motivated students to speak up more and has allowed everyone to voice their opinions and thoughts in class.

Do you consider professional skills to be important in the future? How are you developing them?

Brenda: Yes, soft skills are important for the future. Through projects, I have developed better communication and time-management skills. All students also have to attend the Finishing Touch Workshop, where training and tips are given for us to be better prepared for the working world.

What do you think makes the School of Economics stand out?

Brenda: The School of Economics is a close-knit community. We may not be very big in size, but we have a group of dedicated professors who are encouraging and supportive of us as we pursue our interests and dreams.

 What three words would you use to describe SoE students?

Brenda: Passionate, driven and competent.

Name any three activities at SMU that you find completely unique.

Brenda: The first would be study missions overseas. SMU has study missions to all parts of the world, including more exotic countries such as Israel. Next, it would be the many weekly guest seminars that we have where guest speakers from all walks of life are invited to give a talk. Lastly, it would be the many CCAs that we have in the school, which cater to any interest. All these programmes are open to all students, providing an abundance of opportunities for us outside class.

What has been your most memorable experience in SMU?

Brenda: I think it would be being involved in the orientation for the freshmen last year. It was a great time welcoming the freshmen into the school and meeting many new people in the whole process.

If you could be granted one superpower for an entire day, what would it be and why? 

Brenda: I’d like to be able to read everyone’s minds, so that I can understand everyone better. I think the world will be a better and happier place with less misunderstandings going around. What’s more, I’m sure that superpower would be useful in reading my profs’ minds as well!

Find out more about the SMU School of Economics at