STUDYING law is an avenue to help others, says Ms Karyn Ooi, who is currently pursuing a Double Degree Programme in Business Administration and Law at National University of Singapore (NUS). She says: “The best legal education would be one that incorporates another discipline to allow me to see law from a different perspective.” In fact, Ms Ooi, 20, chose a business and law combination as she felt it would grant her “an even wider understanding of the law”, which she felt was important as “business is such a pervasive part of our society”. She applied for the NUS Global Merit Scholarship when deciding whether to pursue law in Singapore or overseas. Ms Ooi, who began her studies at NUS last August, says: “I chose to study locally because I felt that NUS would provide me with the best legal education, including opportunities for learning, practice and making a difference” Ms Ooi, who will graduate in 2022, says: “I feel blessed to receive the scholarship and am grateful for the opportunities it has provided,” she adds. The bond-free scholarship covers tuition and accommodation fees, as well as living and computer allowances. It also guarantees successful applicants a place in a semester-long Student Exchange Programme with one of NUS’ overseas partner universities.
Ms Ooi’s learning journey has been enjoyable so far. Although she needs to prepare more before each lesson at university, she is able to learn at her own pace. The combination of large lectures, mid-sized seminars and small-group tutorials enables her to not only acquire knowledge, but also engage fully with what she is learning. “The teachers are caring and understanding. They check on how we are coping with the learning and also adjust their teaching styles to suit us,” she says. Her modules include Contract Law, Criminal Law and Tort Law. She particularly enjoys Legal Analysis, Research and Communication (LARC). This involves learning the practical skills that a lawyer needs, such as interpreting statutes, reading past cases and conducting legal research. She will begin studying business modules in her third year. Ms Ooi’s university life involves more than just studies. She is an active member of the Criminal Justice Club (a subset of the NUS Law Club), and has sat in on, and transcribed, criminal trials. The experience was sometimes distressing — she once had to attend a gang rape trial. Nevertheless, she was able to see the workings of criminal law first-hand and gain a better understanding of the process. Although real-world law is less theatrical and glamorous than how it is depicted on television, she is impressed by how court rulings have the potential to greatly affect people’s lives. Observing such proceedings has made her more determined to seek justice.
Lending a helping hand
Ms Ooi was already helping others through law even before she matriculated at NUS. She had a stint at the Pro Bono Services Office, a charity organisation under the Law Society of Singapore last year — just a few months before beginning her undergraduate studies. During the two-week stint, she worked at legal clinics where people would go for free counsel from volunteer lawyers. She helped to register people who visited the clinic and occasionally did translation work. Observing the intricacies of the legal system during these sessions drove home the point that a law degree is a powerful tool that would equip her to help people in a specialised way. She adds that her pre-matriculation stint gave her valuable insights into the pro-bono legal services available in Singapore. She is currently helping out at legal clinics under the auspices of the NUS Pro Bono Club. Ms Ooi also volunteers with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to create worksheets that educate primary school pupils on responsible pet ownership. “Being able to do meaningful work while pursuing an education makes my time in university much more memorable,” she says. As a resident of Kent Ridge Hall, Ms Ooi is involved in various hall activities, from performing carols with the Kent Ridge Choir last Christmas, to being part of Hall’s swimming team. She adds: “What makes NUS so special for me is that there are many different experiences for students to delve into, be it in law school, hall or schoolwide events like Welfare days. “No matter where you go in school, you can find familiar faces and open arms, and I think that is a rare thing.”