Get ready for a night of fun, surprises and lots of energetic dancing!

Every year at the University Student Life Awards (USLA), a team of dedicated and passionate staff, led by SMU President Professor Arnoud de Meyer, lace up their dancing shoes and take to the stage. It’s a new theme every year, from Bollywood to Grease. For 2016 Colours was the theme, and what a show it was!

We speak to veteran performers Adelene Ang (Centre for Student Financial Assistance), Soh Yeing Yeing (Office of Strategic Planning & Quality Assurance), Koh Yong Fong (Office of Postgraduate Research Programmes) and Intan Darvina Bte Rahmat (Office of Alumni Relations), as well as newcomers Vera Tan (UOB-SMU Asian Enterprise Institute) and Elina Yu Jia (SMU-TCS iCity Lab) about their motivations and involvement in the USLA, and student life in SMU.

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Emily Hogan (centre, from the Centre for Social Responsibility) has been performing at USLA since the very first staff performance in 2012

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Vera (in dark blue SMU tee) and the dancers rehearsing for the big show

What motivated you to join this performance team?

Vera: It’s my sixth year at SMU. I just wanted to do something different to challenge myself!

Darvina: It’s a great way to get to know the staff community outside of the office. I love getting a glimpse of everyone’s fun side!

Elina: I’m really impressed that our students are full of enthusiasm and energy, and pursue their passions through their CCAs with lots of heart and exceptional professionalism. It’s cool and equally important to show our student that we have an energetic staff team that can match and support their passion!

Adelene:  Meeting people I might not even have the chance to say “hi” to, in this big SMU Family!

Yong Fong: It’s about seeing the lighter side of my fellow colleagues. We’re able to tell the students: though we may be getting on with age, we still know to have fun!

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Prof Arnoud (right) is an avid dancer himself!

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Yeing Yeing (front row in black and red dress) and Yong Fong (back row, far right) are just two members of this very dedicated team of dancers

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What are some memorable moments in student life, involving some of our students?

Yeing Yeing: I see school life as a microcosm of working life. We’re here to support and help our students learn in this environment, when it’s still safe to fail. I am always amazed by the commitment and passion students show to their cause and the depth of their thoughts. They ask very difficult questions sometimes. Once, a student consulted me on Vision 2025 and how SMUSA can play a role in the overall future and direction of our university.

Yong Fong: I enjoy getting reports from the students who go on overseas community service projects. It’s always great to see their pictures, when they get their hands dirty and get things done. It’s encouraging how they make efforts and raise funds in creative, meaningful ways for their various projects. Even more encouraging is when different teams collaborate by returning to the same area and community, to continue what the senior team has started. It’s admirable to see continuity in these overseas community projects despite the changes in the manpower.

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Darvina: I’ve always enjoyed events where the alumni and students collaborate and come together, despite the stress that comes along with it! I’d want to amp it up and encourage more alumni-student collaborations in the future. It’s important to bridge the gap between these our alumni and students, because there’s so much that can be shared and learned.

Elina: One of the most memorable moments was when one of our student interns initiated a surprise party for the female staff at our lab during International Women’s Day. They prepared our favourite snacks and a cake as appreciation, and also addressed the global issues of gender equality, especially in developing countries. Our students care and are aware of social issues with a global perspective!

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Kevin and Naomi, from the SMU-TCS iCity Lab, have a dance-off!

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That’s Elina on the right, leading this segment. Darvina (third from the left)) is standing by, ready to start her routine!

What are the three important qualities you’d like to see in students?

Vera: It’s simple. Be humble, committed and always have a positive attitude to life and what you do.

Yeing Yeing: It’s great when the students are willing to learn, can articulate their concerns concisely and confidently, and are mature in their thinking.

Yong Fong: Respect, appreciation and humility. These qualities are especially important when working with others, be it the staff, external parties or your future colleagues and clients. You’ll be willing to listen and learn from one another, and work together for a shared common goal. It’s not about you or me, but about us and who we’re helping.

Adelene: Determination. Be driven and focused in striving for excellence. Selflessness. How you can contribute to communities in need? The ability to think and communicate effectively. Be succinct and clear in your thoughts and your words.

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What’s the best advice you’ve received, that would be meaningful for our students?

Yong Fong: Do not insist on being right but insist on doing the right thing.

Darvina: True happiness and success can be found only when you stop comparing it against other people’s definition of what it should be.

Elina: Listen to advice, but follow your heart.

Vera: Be humble. Don’t hold yourself back because you’re afraid of losing out. Go the extra mile.

Yeing Yeing: Sometimes we wonder why we go through the trials that we go through. But in retrospect, you will see that everything’s there to prepare you for life.

Adelene: If you want to change things for the better, do it!

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University Student Life Awards (USLA) is an annual event honouring student, faculty and staff contributors for their support of co-curriculum activities (CCAs) and significant contribution towards a rich and vibrant campus life in SMU. Find out more here.

© 2018 Snapshots by SMU