When choosing his degree last year, Mr Neel Ketan Modha (above) wanted to kill two birds with one stone.
The 22-year-old took up a double degree at Singapore Management University (SMU), pursuing a Bachelor of Business Management (BBM) and a Bachelor of Science (Economics) in SMU’s Double Degree Programme (DDP).
The Business Management degree allows him to choose from various business majors while the secondary degree in Economics complements his primary business degree and allows him to understand the forces at work behind global markets.
He also appreciates the flexibility of the DDP, which allows him to drop his secondary degree without any penalties should he feel overwhelmed.
Choosing a university
Mr Modha visited the SMU Open House in 2015 and was impressed by the SMU undergraduates he met, who were outgoing and carried themselves well.
He was also attracted to the university’s curriculum, which placed an emphasis on class participation and presentations.
So when he was offered the SMU Global Impact Scholarship Award — which he had applied on graduating from Raffles Institution, he was happy to accept it.
He took up the bondfree scholarship in 2016. It provides him with financial support like tuition fees, an annual living allowance and a one-time computer allowance upon enrolment. He was also given a $14,000 grant for student exchange programmes or overseas community service projects.
Mr Modha says: “This scholarship is truly a great opportunity. Apart from the monetary benefits, I get to participare in the Overseas Community Service Project (OCSP). Next year, my batch will be heading to Scandinavia for a business study mission trip during summer to explore corporate sustainability practices.”
Global Impact Scholars have a specially tailored curriculum designed around collaborations with real-world industry partners. In their studies, students will solve realworld problems with their respective skill sets.
Juggling different interests
Although he has been at SMU for just over a year, Mr Modha has already participated in various activities and projects.
For instance, he joined the SMU Sports Union as deputy finance director, and he has been involved in organising events such as Sports Appreciation Night, City Games and Sports Camp.
“This leadership position made me more competent in event planning and managing people. I work with peers from different faculties, staff and external stakeholders. I am appreciative of the immense amount of work that goes on behind the scenes,” he says.
He also joined the SMU Dragonboat team in August last year. Although the training regimen is intense, it has helped him to be more disciplined.
He says: “When the day gets tough and I simply cannot look at assignments anymore, training is the best way to release stress.”
As part of his OCSP, he went to Jaipur, India, last December. The project aimed to impart basic financial knowledge to unemployed women at a vocational centre. Being the only Hindi-speaking person in his team, he became the main translator.
“Translating the entire time was mentally and physically tiring but seeing my peers interact with the women more easily as the days went by was well worth it,” he says.
With so many commitments, Mr Modha adds that it is important to be disciplined and well-organised, and establish a good support system of family and friends.
After his graduation, he hopes to work as a consultant in the technology sector.
He says: “I believe that the future of the world depends on the progress of science and technology. Companies such as Google and SpaceX are changing the way we integrate the real world with the digital world and pushing the boundaries of human innovation.”
At the same time, he believes that tech giants have an inherent responsibility to balance social and corporate goals. In future, he hopes to balance innovation and profitability, so that technologies are kept affordable and accessible to the masses.
For his future juniors, he has a word of advice: “Choose a course that you will enjoy instead of gunning for money and prestige. Your university’s ideals and way of life should align with yours — for me, I like that at SMU, student life is vibrant and it stretches my limits.”