We have always been encouraged to develop a passion for lifelong learning, for good reason. The world is evolving rapidly and staying relevant with industry developments and updated knowledge opens the door to new discoveries and rewarding careers.
While many institutions champion lifelong learning, the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) goes a step further.
SUSS is grounded by its “Head, Heart, Habit”, or 3H, philosophy - “Head” for professional competency with applied knowledge, “Heart” for social awareness of the needs of the society, and “Habit” for passion towards lifelong learning. The 3H are imbued in every student through carefully curated global learning programmes, internships, entrepreneurships, service learning projects and student-led expeditions.
SUSS’ 3H approach empowers people from all walks of life to achieve their learning goals, be it the working parent who has limited time to attend classes or the high-flying scholar searching for a degree to take pride in. To cater to every learner, SUSS offers more than 80 undergraduate and post graduate programmes in both full- and part-time study modes. The curriculum is structured to be flexible, modular and interdisciplinary, catering to both fresh school leavers and adult learners.
Leow Li Jie Darren, a second-year full-time undergraduate pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Supply Chain Management, is one of those who have found life at SUSS thoroughly fulfilling.
Putting Students First
Like many, Darren was drawn to SUSS’s programme and curriculum, but what truly impressed him was the university’s dedication to equality in its admission procedures.
He elaborated: “Unlike other autonomous universities, I like that SUSS gives everyone a fair chance to go through an interview during the selection process, and not just based on grades from polytechnic or Junior College.”
Having completed his freshman year, Darren is well-adjusted to the pace of life at SUSS. The flexible academic arrangement and his efficient time management allowed him to pursue activities outside the curriculum without affecting his grades.
SUSS certainly taught him to use his Head for a passion from the Heart, as he set up the SUSS Outdoor Adventure Interest Group along with other enthusiasts. The Group’s very beginnings reflect Darren’s – and SUSS’ – quick-thinking and passion for the community, as they had to overcome a huge challenge right from the start.
“I was supposed to be on the Gobi Desert Challenge in April 2020. Unfortunately, the pandemic happened. Nevertheless, it was a great experience going for training sessions at MacRitchie Reservoir every Saturday morning as I got to meet a lot of seniors, alumni and faculty members who had participated previously.”
These training sessions led to him organising outdoor activities for his peers, which soon evolved into the Interest Group.
“[Setting up the Interest Group] has definitely enriched my experience in SUSS, being able to share my passion for outdoors with others. I’m really grateful that I am able to serve our students and make a difference to the SUSS culture!” he enthused.
A Mindful Endeavour
Community Engagement is another graduating requirement and integral component of SUSS full-time degree programmes.
In this endeavour, Darren was also involved in another project that was a lot more far-reaching. He led the Community Service-Learning group, Project Video Befrienders, which focused on peer support and advocacy for mental health awareness in Singapore. The end-product was a video that featured a survivor’s journey in overcoming mental health challenges and the importance of peer support in her recovery.
Through the process of creating the video, he volunteered with Singapore Association for Mental Health and attended mental health workshops conducted by Silver Ribbon and other organisations.
On why he became an advocate of mental health, he explained that during National Service, there were many instances in which he felt compelled to do more after listening to the woes of his fellow servicemen. However, he felt helpless as he did not have the expertise to do so.
“I think I am more confident to handle such situations compared to my NS days,” he humbly said.
“One of the staff who nominated me shared that she recognised my efforts and contributions to the school in several aspects. That gave me the motivation to step up even more and to make sure that by the end of my projects, I will be able to meet the objectives set, and along the way inspire others to do the same,” beamed Darren.
For all his good work, Darren was awarded the SUSS Spirit Award, which recognises students who reflect the university’s 3H philosophy. This achievement not only reflects how he has taken the 3H’s to heart, but SUSS’ determination to keep its students moving forward to become 3H ambassadors themselves.
Advocacy at the Work Place
Central to this is a solid curriculum that upgrades the skills of Singapore’s workforce and is constantly updated to reflect developments in the world. For example, the recent blockage at the Suez Canal resulted in a new compulsory module in their international trade management programme.
In Darren’s case, he is looking forward to applying what he has learned and the modules he will be learning at his future workplace.
“Our lecturers focused a lot on technology and industry 4.0. So wherever I go, I hope that I can put my knowledge that I have learnt in SUSS into practice. Whenever I can, I will try to automate and optimise processes, increase efficiency, to make people’s life easier at work,” he explained.
He is grateful for being instilled with the 3H philosophy that is the cornerstone of SUSS, and he hopes to see more students take on the fulfilling academic journey that he is currently on.
“SUSS is a place that allows us to explore, experiment and create. In addition, with the many experienced staff to mentor and support you, they will ensure that you succeed,” he emphasised.
“I feel that whichever career path we pursue, we can apply the 3H’s philosophy in our work. Having learnt about the importance of mental health, I want to create a working environment where everyone has the knowledge and skill to look out for one another.”
He concluded: “My goal is to continue learning even at different stages of my life even after I have joined the work force and contribute back to society.”
This article was first published in BrightSparks July 2021 e-Magazine. Republished with permission from CareerBuilder Singapore.