SUSS – passion meets opportunity
SUSS' strong focus on impacting human and community development made it the right place for me to grow and realise my desire to connect with people and contribute to society. It is important to study something that I am passionate about, and SUSS is the only autonomous university that offered the early childhood education (ECE) degree in 2017. I could not be more grateful to be presented with such a timely opportunity.
I entered the SUSS ECE programme with the hope of becoming a good preschool teacher. Thus far, the experience has prepared me well, and even pushed me to think and go beyond the discipline. The ECE programme is a comprehensive one, covering child development theories, teaching strategies across learning domains, classroom management, and home-school collaboration. It also involves higher-level content and skills for working with children with special needs, advocating for children and families, as well as research. The holistic education allows me to expand and diversify the ways of supporting young children within and outside the preschool classroom. It has also encouraged me to consider my next steps beyond being an ECE practitioner, empowering me to dream bigger. I enjoy the challenge to think about ways to further protect and improve the lives of children in our society.
Independent learning deepens motivation and confidence
We are required to study the course content in our own time so that class time are spent on inquiry, discussion, and content application to deepen our learning and understanding. While more effort is required, this blended mode of learning has promoted my sense of ownership towards learning, allowing time spent in class to be more interactive and flexible. Admittedly, I struggled to manage my learning pace in the first few weeks of starting university. With focused time management, consistent effort, and support from the ECE faculty and my peers, I have grown even more committed as I am learning and doing what I love most.
Applied learning at SUSS
At SUSS, there are abundant opportunities to gain first-hand experience through experiential and practice-based learning. The lecturers, and people I have worked with are supportive and approachable. Since cohort sizes are kept relatively small, learning thrives amongst students in a stimulating and supportive environment.
The ECE practicum and work attachment were the most enriching components of my programme. Practicum begins in the first year. It was initially daunting for me, but through the patient guidance of my SUSS and preschool mentors, I felt supported and assumed more responsibilities over time, from observing to assisting, and eventually taking up teaching duties. My experiences in the preschool classroom bridged theory and practice, sharpening my intentionality and reflective thinking. I was also attached to three different preschools, which exposed me to various pedagogical approaches, children's learning environments, and staff welfare. These experiences developed my work readiness and even helped me land a job before graduation.
Broadening horizons overseas
My overseas summer programme with the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, was an enlightening experience. Over the month-long study trip, I bonded with individuals from around the globe over our shared passion in early childhood education and visited preschools. The trip opened my eyes to early childhood beliefs, practices, and challenges from different parts of the world. It helped me appreciate the good in Singapore's ECE landscape, while highlighting the areas for improvement and change that I could effect when I join the industry.
A varied and flexible student life at SUSS
When SUSS was a new university, its co-curricular activities had not yet been established. But as the university grew, more initiatives and funding for student life were rolled out. Today, there is a wide variety of interest groups to choose from, many of which are founded by students and made possible by the autonomy, flexibility, and support that SUSS offers its undergraduates.
Changing perspectives of success
For a long while, I was unsure and insecure about how success is defined. Is it about being accepted into top universities? Is it about scaling the corporate ladder? What makes me happy, and how can I make a difference? My experience at SUSS clarified my perspective on success. With the university's emphasis on creating positive social impact, I have come to find success in touching lives. It is so rewarding to witness children as they learn and grow, to build a relationship with them, and to support them to reach their fullest potential. I gain a sense of fulfilment in knowing that what I am doing impacts others. To me, this definition of success keeps me going.
Adjusting to university life and beyond
Truth be told, the university journey is not meant to be easy. There will be setbacks and times of disappointment amidst the adjustment, rigour, and demands. "My best is enough" is a personal mantra that serves as a helpful reminder to give my best 100 percent of the time and to focus on learning from the experience.
I will be working as a preschool teacher when I graduate. While I gather more experience on the ground, I would like to return to school in the spirit of lifelong learning and pursue a doctorate degree and refresh my knowledge and expand my capacity in the evolving field of early childhood education.