To the Class of 2020, congratulations on completing your education journey with SUSS! You and your loved ones have every reason to be proud of what you have achieved after all the sweat and tears, and I hope some laughter and fun, too. While you have deservedly gained a qualification, I hope you have also discovered more about yourself, what you are able to achieve, what really matters to you, how you will view life and the future differently now.
All of you are graduating amid a new normal forced upon us by the COVID-19 outbreak. It came without warning, it has disrupted the lives of all of us, raising fear and uncertainty. Yet, we have also seen waves of adaption, innovative ideas and acts of kindness all round. In SUSS, our community has also responded - we introduced support measures for our graduating cohorts and alumni, banded together to support our students financially through our Student Care Fund, and funded student start-ups helping individuals and businesses during this period.
Because of COVID-19, we have had to postpone the 2020 physical Convocation, and defer a decision on how Convocation 2020 will be conducted within the next few months depending on how much our country reverts to normalcy. But, there is no reason why you cannot celebrate this important occasion online with family and friends. To this end, the University has created this special microsite dedicated to all the 2,432 SUSS graduands.
This year, SUSS celebrates its 15th anniversary – I hope you will share in our pride in the university - proud of its achievement as an institution which offers inclusive and multi-faceted learning opportunities and pathways for its students, both part-time and full-time, you being among the many who have benefitted. This year, we mark yet another milestone — welcoming our first batch of 11 graduates from our School of Law.
Many of our law graduates choose the Juris Doctor programme at SUSS for its focus on criminal and family law, areas that our society needs to have able socially-conscious lawyers to serve in.
One of them, Muhammad Aadil bin Dafir, was inspired to pursue the SUSS law programme after encountering youngsters from troubled backgrounds. Aadil has been volunteering at Madrasah Al Irsyad for the past five years, where he provides free tuition for students between 16 and 17 years old. Many often have to grapple with their family’s financial problems and crime-related issues. Aadil hopes to use his legal knowledge to educate and help these youngsters.
In fact, we’d like all our graduates to approach issues and serve society holistically. Help our society not just to be more compassionate but also to become more resilient as problems and tough times arise.
Many of you have demonstrated that resilient spirit in yourselves not only to complete the final semester despite the disruptions to your lessons, examinations and internships, but also to help the less fortunate navigate a brave new world of social distancing, mask wearing and economic uncertainties.
Eugene Lau Fook Wah, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Counselling from the S R Nathan School of Human Development, said his course has enabled him to help his elderly parents by providing them with psychological and emotional support, especially during this period of social distancing and self-isolation.
Our brand of education, encapsulated as "Head, Heart, Habit" is designed to enable you to apply knowledge you’ve gained at SUSS, and imbue in you a heart for people around you and a habit to keep learning. These will serve you well for many years to come.
COVID-19 has forced all of us to change, adapt, innovate, stop and review our priorities and who or what matters to us, work together more with others to ensure public health safety, and treasure what we have. We will ride out this pandemic eventually, but when it is over, don’t let this experience be wasted or forgotten – keep that same spirit and the good practices that you have developed as you go out and make a career as an SUSS graduate.
And, though you leave SUSS presently, keep ties with us as active members of the SUSS community. Join us as SUSS ambassadors or serve as a mentor for our new students.
Once again, on behalf of all of us from SUSS, best wishes and congratulations!
Professor Cheong Hee Kiat
Singapore University of Social Sciences