By Sarah Huang, SMU School of Social Sciences
“If you had to describe something you’ve gotten from university that you will not want otherwise, what would it be?”
This was a question posed to me during a recent internship interview. My thought process following that was one of the most confounding experiences. Should I mention a school achievement? A skill? A co-curricular experience? After a few (quick) rounds of mental deliberation, I decided to go with my first instinctive response—friendships forged.
Allow me to explain—it is not entirely true (to me at least), what some may say, that grades, CCA experiences and value-adding skill sets are not important in a university education. They are, to varying degrees, still important in their own right. But, ultimately, the friendships I’ve made are something that I treasure more and that I know I would not trade for anything even after I’ve ended my SMU education; hence my answer. This brings me to one of the most important reasons that have made SMU a place that I look forward to going everyday—almost like a second home, really. Over the past three years, I’ve crossed paths with many people from different walks of life. You really see for yourself the kind of diversity that a SMU education attracts and these very same people widen your worldview, inspire you to try the things you’ve never dared to, and teach you a little something about yourself each time.
My pillar of support—featuring two of my closest friends and… Coffee 😛
Through the years, I’ve had the privilege to make some of the closest confidantes and greatest support system in my life—friends who stick with you through the greatest setbacks and toughest moments. Two weeks before last semester ended, I sustained an acute slipped disc that left me bed-ridden for three weeks. The worry and panic that followed are easily imaginable: How should I go about my group project and presentations? Will I be able to make it in time to be fit enough to take my final examinations?
It was only really with the most supportive friends and group mates—the ones who unconditionally took over my parts for our projects, converted and emailed over audio notes; and those who showered their concern both through text messages and home visits—that I managed to tide through the semester till my very final paper.
Surprise home visit from my lovely project group mates 😀
It is also through these same friends that I’ve seen, understood and learnt the traits of resilience and tenacity that have carried them through their own set of tough times. A trekking enthusiast who overcame personal doubts and familial resistance to pursue her passion in reaching the peaks; a Kendo President who led her club with compassion and humility and brought it to greater heights; and a freshman who excelled in his studies despite juggling three jobs to make ends meet—these are just three of many admirable individuals that have motivated me to be greater than myself and to be more mindful about people around me.
On a final point, modules in SMU’s School of Social Sciences also have a huge role to play in making school enriching for me. Amongst many intellectually stimulating modules that really stretch your mind to think beyond what you thought you already knew, one of my fondest memories would have to be taking the Research Methods in Sociology course under Assistant Professor Nicholas Harrigan. It was such an eye-opening and gratifying experience as we self-directed and saw through an entire research project on “Sexual Harassment in Singapore” from proposal to final findings and recommendations, over the course of a semester. We uncovered intricate details and hypotheses behind what will otherwise remain largely seen as a taboo topic in the conservative Singaporean society. Although the process to getting there was undeniably difficult, it was definitely worthwhile as it was extremely fulfilling and empowering. Therein lies the value of an education in the Social Sciences—being able to learn about the various theories/concepts and to actually apply them to people and the larger social settings around you.
With the kiddos from Project Bloom—truly one of the happiest experiences yet.
In essence, the SMU experience will not sell you short. There could hardly be a mundane day in campus as long as you are pro-active in seeking out opportunities to make fruitful experiences for yourself. So far, I’ve had the chance to learn ballroom dancing in SMU Ballare, serve as the Events Director for SMU Fitnessworks, volunteer for Project Passion for Compassion and Project Bloom, as well as to embark on a 6-month internship stint with L’Oreal Singapore. I also got to do an overseas exchange in Eastern Europe at the Technische Universitat Munchen! I hope you will make the choice to take on the SMU experience too, like I did.
SMU’s undergraduate admissions is now open! Find out more about our Bachelor of Social Science programme today.