Scholars' experience Details

From national athlete to budding anthropologist

From national athlete to budding anthropologist

t age 12, Miss Audrey Lim qualified for Singapore’s national sailing team and subsequently enrolled in the Singapore Sports School (SSP) to pursue her sporting dreams.

At 15, she developed an interest in the sport of shooting and made the national air rifle team after only a year of training.

These experiences equipped her with the mental fitness and physical endurance required to thrive in high-level competitions.

Little did she know that she would one day be testing her mental limits in an entirely different field.

While pursuing an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, Miss Lim became intrigued by a subject called the Theory of Knowledge (TOK).

The core IB subject features philosophical methodologies that made her more aware of her personal and ideological assumptions, and trained her to
reflect on life’s diversity — much like anthropology, which studies human behaviour and societies.

“My TOK teacher was the first academic mentor who brought to life the idea of how academic texts weren’t just words on paper, but could be engaged with on a very human level too.

By studying locally, I had the chance to be a voice for our own subalterns (people with little political or socioeconomic power) and that shaped my academic focus in college,” she says.

Everything to gain
After graduating in 2015, she took time off from sports training to do a marketing internship and attend a three-month bible school course.

It provided her the space to explore new experiences, and the confidence to step away from the familiar realm of sports.

Eventually, she set off along a new path at Yale-NUS College under the bond-free Global Leader Scholarship and decided to stop competitive sports
completely to focus on her newfound interest in academia.

Many people told the 22-year-old that it was “a waste to throw away years of training”, but the plucky undergraduate holds a different view.

“Life is experienced as an unfolding narrative. If we feel like there’s only one path for us to take, then I think we need to create some space to
challenge that. The new experiences and knowledge I’ve gained haven’t made my past experiences irrelevant, they have added to it,” she says.

If anything, her background in sports has helped to bolster her academic life at Yale-NUS College. A sharp mental acuity developed in her earlier years helps her to think nimbly in classes, while her strong discipline code translates to a meticulous work ethic.

Broadening her global outlook
Last year, she had the opportunity to spend an immersive semester in the Indian Himalayan region.

“Previously, I had more of a textbook understanding of anthropology. However, being outdoors and visiting significant cultural and historic field sites
have given me a glimpse into what an anthropologist does during research. I learnt the value of humility, to be less insular in my outlook, and to keep asking questions and challenging my assumptions,” she says.

Her coursework also gave her a glimpse of the positive impact of social work and research on local issues such as sexual violence and
social inequality.

Miss Lim hopes to work in a research role for organisations that tackle issues of inequality and social violence after graduation.

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