SCHOLARS'

EXPERIENCE

These NTU students are empowered to create change through education
By Chew Huiling
Mr Gabriel Sze, Ms Priyadharshini Chockalingam and Mr Muhammad Hasif Abdul Halim represent a new generation ready to make an impact in their respective fields.
PHOTO: FRENCHESCAR LIM

From building tech solutions to finding new cures for diseases, these NTU scholars are striving to make a difference beyond the classroom

What does a start-up founder, a biotech whiz and a community volunteer have in common? They all have one goal in mind: to inspire change in their own unique ways. They are also united in their desire to help others.

Upon graduation, Mr Gabriel Sze hopes to mentor aspiring tech entrepreneurs. Ms Priyadharshini Chockalingam wants to help vulnerable groups get better healthcare, whereas Mr Muhammad Hasif Abdul Halim has decided on a research career in microbiology to make life-saving discoveries.

For these Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students, their journey began with an NTU scholarship to help them pursue their dreams.

ON A QUEST TO BUILD THE BEST DEAL DISCOVERY WEBSITE

With so many apps and social media channels for finding deals and discounts, the consumer is often inundated with choices. To make things worse, many of these interfaces are poorly designed and not user-friendly.

That is what inspired computer science undergraduate Gabriel Sze to concoct a solution.

“As a student, I was always looking for deals to help save money, but I disliked downloading so many apps on my phone and preferred to search the web instead,” he says.

What started off as a passion project has now evolved into a successful start-up called Dive Deals. Developed from scratch, Mr Sze’s custom-built, mobile-optimised website is a seamless one-stop platform that lets users discover more relevant and personalised deals.

“It was really exciting to build a product from ground zero. Seeing my development come to life and people benefiting from it brings me great joy,” he says.

Mr Sze, 24, is enrolled in NTU’s Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP), one of the university’s four Premier Scholars Programmes. Graduates of the dual-degree programme receive a Bachelor of Engineering Science and a Master of Science in Technology Management, which are awarded by the College of Engineering and the Nanyang Business School respectively.

Mr Sze credits the REP’s rigorous curriculum for equipping him with important skill sets to build digital and technological solutions. It also opened many opportunities for learning – from internships with industry partners to participating in hackathons.

Upon graduation, Mr Sze hopes to mentor aspiring tech entrepreneurs.

ON A QUEST TO BETTER SERVE THE COMMUNITY

Ms Priyadharshini Chockalingam, 24, is on a mission to serve.

“I was drawn to psychology because I am very fascinated by how complex people are: Why do they act the way they do? What are they thinking when they behave in a certain way? These questions intrigued me,” says Ms Priyadharshini.

She is now a third-year student specialising in psychology with a second major in biological sciences.

Currently enrolled in the NTU-University Scholars Programme (NTU-USP), Ms Priyadharshini had the opportunity to be involved in community service which greatly enriched her overall academic experience.

Through its multidisciplinary programme, NTU-USP scholars are exposed to diverse learning opportunities that complement their studies, all while sharpening their critical thinking and leadership skills.

Her first foray into community service was an internship with HealthServe, a non-profit group that provides medical care to migrant workers.

“My time with HealthServe showed me how the healthcare we take for granted is not accessible to all. I want to provide healthcare to those who really need it,” she says. She now volunteers with Trampolene, a non-profit organisation that assists people with special needs.

“These experiences have taught me that with education, I can help so many more people and do so much more for the world.”

ON A QUEST TO FIND NEW CURES FOR DISEASES

Mr Muhammad Hasif Abdul Halim, 23, had initially wanted to study medicine, but decided to become a research scientist instead.

“I want to contribute to discovering new treatments because it might just save someone’s life one day,” says Mr Hasif, who is currently a second-year student studying biological sciences under the CN Yang Scholars Programme (CNYSP).

Awarded to outstanding freshmen who are from science and engineering fields, the scholarship comes with a focus on research, offering scholars myriad possibilities to work with top researchers, both locally and overseas.

The programme allowed Mr Hasif to expand his knowledge beyond his core discipline. During his first year of studies, he interned at a research laboratory under the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at NTU. There, he learnt more about mycobacteria, which could contribute to more effective treatments for tuberculosis.

His attachment next semester will be with L’Oréal, hosted at the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering where he will be studying microorganisms that help to keep skin healthy.

He hopes to work in the research department of a biotech or pharmaceutical company in the future, or pursue a PhD in microbiology after graduating.

Visit ntu.edu.sg/admissions/undergraduate for more information.

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