MS MARISSA Foo, 20, values the comprehensive breadth of knowledge and career flexibility that a liberal arts education provides.
For this reason, she chose to study at Yale-NUS College.
A collaboration between Yale University in the United States and the National University of Singapore (NUS), the fully residential liberal arts and sciences college accepted its first batch of students in 2013.
Ms Foo, who is a recipient of the Yale-NUS Global Leader Scholarship, says: “Being part of a new college, although daunting, was compelling because I valued the challenge of building a new community.”
“In addition, Yale-NUS’ values of openness, inclusiveness and appreciation of diversity resonate with me. The scholarship was a bonus.”
Applicants to Yale-NUS are considered for these merit-based scholarships, which are awarded in recognition of the exceptional qualities of the students.
The bond-free Global Leader Scholarship covers Ms Foo’s tuition and residential college fees, providing an annual living and book allowance of $3,500, a onetime computer allowance of $2,000, and a one-time overseas student exchange programme of up to $10,000.
It is tenable for her entire four years at the college, with the requirement that she maintains good academic standing.
At the college, every student begins with the Common Curriculum, which spans subjects such as Comparative Social Inquiry and Foundations of Science.
The multi-disciplinary courses are designed to drive critical, creative and active thinking.
At the end of their second year, students select a major. Ms Foo chose Environmental Studies, as she believes that environmental degradation is the most pressing issue inherited by her generation.
“In my opinion, the capacity to approach such risk and uncertainty critically, flexibly and with an open mind is the most important skill an educated person must learn in the 21st century,” she says.
She has been actively involved with college activities, co-founding the Yale-NUS Scuba-Diving and Environmental Awareness Club.
One of its recent projects was related to thresher shark fishing conservation and activism in Lombok, Indonesia.
The organisation filmed a documentary to spread awareness of these illegal fishing practices and the need for people to be responsible consumers.
Such work builds on Ms Foo’s academic studies, where she majors in Environmental Studies while minoring in Economics.
She looks forward to graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in 2019 and hopes to pursue a career in the energy sector in the areas of energy finance and security and direct the focus away from environmentally destructive modes of operation.
While her studies have involved practical components such as data modelling, statistics, programming and research, she feels that the most important things she has learnt are “not immediately evident, such as flexibility and openness when approaching problems and finding solutions to them”.
She elaborates: “Studying at Yale-NUS has provided me with a wealth of opportunities to pursue my academic and professional interests, be it involving myself in a start-up, going on a sailing trip, or attending conferences abroad.”
She suggests that applicants interested in getting a scholarship should be able to demonstrate leadership skills and a drive to serve the community.
She says: “Come ready to have your deeply held opinions challenged, and to challenge those of others.”
“Be open to discourse and willing to venture out of your comfort zone, because regardless of the scholarship, it is what you do with it that will ultimately create the most value for yourself and your organisation.”