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Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat At SIM University Convocation 2013

Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat At SIM University Convocation 2013

Guest-of-Honour, Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education;
Professor Cham Tao Soon, Chancellor and Chairman, SIM University;
SIM University Board of Trustees;
Graduands,parents and families;
Distinguished guests;
Colleagues and friends of the University;


Good morning and a warm welcome to the 2013 Convocation of SIM University!
  1. Over the next three days, we will see a total of 1,980 SIM University, or UniSIM, graduands presented with their degree scrolls. Among them are our pioneer batches from the undergraduate programmes in Early Childhood Education with Management, Facilities and Events Management, Info-Comm Technology with Military Studies, Logistics with Military Studies, and Psychology with Military Studies. We are also pleased to have with us this morning the inaugural batch of graduands from our Master programmes in Gerontology and Human Capital Management.

  1. Congratulations to all our graduands on this milestone in your lives! You join the ranks of more than 19,000 alumni following years of dedicated studies and hard work.

  1. The theme for this year's Convocation is "Making Waves". In the motif, you see a drop of water about to make contact with the water surface, and waves formed from a previous drop. The water drop doesn't look very significant, does it? Yet, something magical happens when it strikes the water surface. The radiating waves make a beautiful picture; sadly, we often miss appreciating it. The phenomenon is complex, but we can see that the interaction between water drop and surface has a far-reaching effect as the wave propagates outwards from the point of impact.


  1. Graduates, think of yourselves, each one of you, as that drop of water. The body of water can be your family, your neighbourhood, your workplace or our society. The waves are what impact you can have on these people. The waves are formed only when the drop interacts with the body. Likewise, you can have a direct impact only if you interact with the people around you. This can be complex, but like the waves, your influence can be far-reaching. It can be good or bad – we've seen waves that destroy, but also waves that shape, wash, aerate, power and propel.

  1. Think of another type of waves – that which you'll find in a surging river – energetic and noisy in the upper reaches; regular, quiet but no less potent in the plains. You can be that river – shaping the land, deepening, watering, fertilising, sustaining life wherever you go. You can do this individually, or be a much greater force together – a huge river of UniSIM graduates going out to water our land, doing good for our society. Your UniSIM education has prepared you well, imparting knowledge and values, and getting you to make the success yourself, achieving despite the odds. This is the UniSIM spirit that we'd like you to take out with you.

  1. Think of yourself as the water itself, with its ability to re-organise to be solid, liquid or gas, or to fill one shape of container or another with ease. Again, we have taken this wondrous nature for granted, but we ought to wonder at the adaptability the water has shown. You should be adaptable like that henceforth. You can’t do it as well as the water can, but with a spirit of learning and re-learning all the rest of your life, you will adapt better to changing circumstances that are bound to come your way.

  1. So, go forth, with pride, resolution and gratitude! Apply yourself with confidence, apply yourself to build a better world all around you, making waves, touching lives, impacting society deep and wide. You understand the workplace better than a fresh graduate, having come from the workplace; you have taken the unconventional route to graduate, you can understand what motivation and perseverance look like, and how people develop on different paths; you can encourage others to succeed like you have. Thousands of you from UniSIM will serve as teachers, social workers, counsellors, HR specialists, pre-school educators, accountants, business specialists, psychologists, supply chain managers, engineers, IT and multi-media personnel, and in many more capacities. Let the young, the elderly, the needy, the ordinary worker, the budding family benefit from your contribution.

  1. UniSIM is, in a sense, making waves, too. We have widened access to a good quality university education for our people. This has added diversity and made for a more inclusive university landscape. To those who want, we give a chance to prove to us that they can. Those who make it, like you this morning, will have met rigorous standards despite the struggles of studying while discharging all your work and social responsibilities – no one can take that achievement from you.

  1. Fortunately, UniSIM is not doing all of this alone. We have the support of the Ministry of Education, the involvement of numerous partners and the goodwill of many who has cheered us on. In the last year, UniSIM forged new partnerships with the National Council of Social Service, Northeastern University, Science Centre Board, Singapore Film Society, SPRING Singapore and Thatz International. Such partnerships ensure that our programmes and learning methodology are industry-relevant, guided by our ‘Learn Today, Apply Tomorrow’ approach. Our Building and Project Management programme has been accredited by the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers, and the Public Sector Panels of Consultants. The Electronics Engineering programme received accreditation from our local Engineering Accreditation Board earlier this year, while the Facility and Events Management programme has been given approval by the International Facility Management Association. These come hot after our Accountancy programme was accredited by ACRA and the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants. But, it has not just been about quality, relevance and recognition – it has also been about heart and people-focus. To this end, the Harvard-Singapore Foundation partnered with us to set up an endowment fund that aims to promote the work of the helping professions – counsellors, social workers, gerontologists and community activists.

  1. And, we are poised to do more. In the years ahead, we will, for the first time, offer undergraduate programmes for full-time studies, enlarge our continuing professional education reach into industry, and make learning more accessible and timely through our mobile applications and our pervasive e-Learning system that enables learners to take greater control of their learning. Our full-time studies will draw on the best features of our current part-time pedagogy, but over time, I’d expect them to be mutually beneficial. As we embark on this new venture, I invite you graduands to join us subsequently as our alumni to help unlock the potential of these students just as yours has been. You can be their best mentors. Stay in contact with us, let us keep you informed about UniSIM's developments and events, participate actively in the alumni activities. Let us make waves together!

  1. But today is about you. This is your day – may it be a truly memorable occasion. May it be the beginning of a new and fulfilling chapter of your life and career. My colleagues at UniSIM and I salute you and wish you every success ahead!

  1. Thank you.

  1. Today, we are honoured to have Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education, as our Guest-of-Honour.

  1. Prior to this appointment, Mr Heng was the Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. He had also served as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Chief Executive Officer of the Trade Development Board and Principal Private Secretary to then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

  1. In just over two years since taking on the Education portfolio, Mr Heng has strived to create an environment where there is opportunity to learn and grow for every child regardless of background. In August this year, he made a visit to UniSIM where he interacted with our management team, students and alumni, thus providing him with insights into our University and the role we have been playing in Singapore's university sector.

  1. Minister, our students, our alumni, our staff, our supporters and I would like to say "Thank you" for being a generous and strong advocate of UniSIM.

  1. It is with great pleasure that I now invite Mr Heng to deliver his address. Minister, please.
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