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SPEECH BY MR TAN HANG CHEONG
PRINCIPAL OF SINGAPORE POLYTECHNIC
AT THE 52nd GRADUATION CEREMONY
MONDAY, 21 MAY 2012 (SESSION 1)
Ms Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts & Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources;
Chairman and Members of the Singapore Polytechnic Board of Governors
Ladies & Gentlemen
- Good morning. I welcome you to the 52nd Graduation Ceremony. We are delighted to have Ms Grace Fu honour us with her presence, as we celebrate this special occasion with the Class of 2012. Thank you, Minister.
- Graduation is a highlight of SP’s calendar, because on this occasion, we celebrate your success, and we cheer you on as you embrace the future before you, after having spent three fruitful years with us.
- This occasion is also especially meaningful for me because three years ago, I stood before you welcoming you to SP as our freshmen. Many of you were excited to begin your life at SP; some were perhaps a little nervous. Through the 3 years, I have gotten to know many of you well and seen how you have all blossomed and matured. Today my heart is filled with joy as I look out at all the bright young faces before me, proud that you have all become confident young men and women ready to take on the world. You represent the hope and promise of our nation.
Making a Difference
- As you look forward to your future, I want to point your attention to the Polytechnic’s motto inscribed on the SP Crest. The phrase reads, “Berkhidmat Dengan Keahlian.”
- Translated, it means “To Serve with Skill.” It was given to us in 1960 by Singapore’s first Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of SP’s Board of Governors, the late Dr. Toh Chin Chye. This phrase is especially meaningful to us, because it reminds us of our mission to mould and nurture young talents so that you can go out and make a difference to society. And this call for us to serve humanity, is one that we continue to strive to live up to, today.
- Through the years, our students have ventured to various countries on community service programmes. And as much as these programmes have helped to improve the lives of the beneficiaries, students who embarked on these projects have also witnessed their own lives being transformed.
- Earlier this year, a team comprising students from 6 different schools went to DuJiangYan in China, on a community service programme to help the local people affected by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The students carried out a structured English learning programme and conducted character development modules at local schools and social enterprise programmes at a handicapped centre. Our students were touched by the resilience of the residents of the handicapped centre. One student, Amelia, commented that “they taught me that even if you are disabled, you can still be a useful part of society.
- Another student, Shannon, was so moved by the experience that he sent an SMS to his parents that read: “Hey papa and mummy, it has been a week in China [and] I have learnt many lessons through the trip either from the activities or from my friends. It has come to my attention that in most of the lessons I have learnt, it all involves appreciation. So here I am thanking you for taking care of me, spoiling me and grooming me to be the person that I am today. I love you.”
- These are but two examples of how the community service and social enterprise programmes have transformed the lives of the students who participated in them, even as they make a positive difference to our common humanity.
- Another aspect of our holistic education is leadership and character development. Our Department of Student Development runs a Leadership Programme, which we commonly refer to as LEAP. LEAP develops a student’s leadership potential and prepares him or her to take on leadership position in the various student clubs and societies. One such student who took up the challenge is Loh Ming Yao, who is president of Gusto, SP’s cheerleading team.
- Last year, I shared at the graduation ceremony on this very stage, the tenacity of our cheerleading team. In 2010, they overcame the odds to climb from 7th placing in 2009 to 3rd, and last year, after tremendous hard work and discipline, they emerged National Cheerleading Champion. This year, we are proud that they successfully defended their national title to bring home the Overall Champion Prize again. On his experience leading Gusto, this is what Ming Yao had to say, “Along this journey, I picked up vital skills such as perseverance, leadership and confidence through organising camps, leading the team, and fighting my battles. Through Gusto, I grew stronger as a person, as a team player and as a leader.”
- Ming Yao’s story exemplifies how beyond what you learn in the classroom, what you learn outside of it, are skills that will serve you for a lifetime.
Testimony from parent of DEB graduand
- This morning, we will witness the 1st batch of 72 students graduating from the Diploma in Engineering with Business course. This is a multi-disciplinary course that provides students with an strong engineering education while equipping them with sound business fundamentals and an entrepreneurial mindset. It is an example of what we are doing at SP to innovate our curriculum to prepare our students for a changing, converging world where multi-disciplinary skills are needed to solve real-world problems.
- We were very delighted to receive a feedback from Rita, a parent of a graduand of this course. I am sure she is here at this ceremony, and with her permission, would like to quote excerpts of what she said : “My son Dexter joined the pioneer batch of students from the Diploma in Engineering with Business Course three years ago…. It was the best decision as I could see him blossom over the years… Projects such as developing a marketing plan and design engineering products gave him good insight on product development and business operation. He learnt much about teamwork, communication & presentation skills, innovation and creativity… He had the opportunity to participate in overseas exchange and immersion programmes… I am happy to see my son being transformed…into a confident, articulate and motivated young man. He was offered a place in the SUTD (Singapore University of Technology and Design) a few days after he attended the interview. I attribute this to the fact that he had applied the skills he acquired in SP and had done well for the interview….Thanks to the SP curriculum, he has many choices…”
- Thank you for your testimony to encourage and affirm us in our journey. We are glad that we played a part in laying the foundation of success for Dexter and for all our students, and we know that our graduates will continue to build on this foundation and continue to achieve greater success and excel in whatever they do.
- As I come to the end of my address, it gives me great pleasure to announce that at this graduation, we instituted a new Gold Medal award to recognise the student with the best portfolio in a design related course. This Gold Medal is dedicated to Mr. Tan Kay Yong who has just retired from the Board of Governors after 12 years of service as Chairman of the Board. Mr Tan, like all of you here is a graduate from Singapore Polytechnic. As Chairman, he was instrumental in steering SP towards helping our students become “Work Ready, Life Ready, and World Ready”. The Tan Kay Yong Gold Medal is a tribute to him for his service and leadership to his alma mater. We are very honoured that he is here today to present the Medal to the first recipient of this award.
- Today, as I bid you farewell as a student, I welcome you as an alumnus of the great SP family. You have many memories of SP and I encourage you to share them in the SP Memories portal. Stay close to the friends you have made during your years here, for these are friendships that last a lifetime. Stay connected with your lecturers, for they can continue to advise and encourage you as you embark on the next phase of your life. You will always be part of the SP family, and we look forward to hearing of your many achievements in time to come and celebrating them with you.
- As our graduates, SP will always be proud of you.
- Thank you.