Malay Studies Graduation Celebration

25 July

Amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic where disruptions to academic practices, uncertainty regarding future job prospects, and the urgent need to adapt are rampant, the Department of Malay Studies (MS) decided to honour their BA and graduate students with a virtual graduation celebration. On 25 July 2020, this well-deserving class was invited to a special online celebration to mark the completion of their final lap in this chapter of their academic journeys. Though their formal commencement ceremony was postponed, the Department recognized the momentousness of this exact moment in the students’ journeys and wanted to celebrate it somehow.

The resulting three-hour Zoom-hosted ‘Graduation Celebration’ was a delightful and spirited occasion. It brought together the MS family of staff, students, friends and family, and alumni of the Department. The afternoon’s proceedings were interspersed with music and shaer (poetry) crafted and performed by talented students and faculty. The moving occasion saw the exchange of congratulatory messages and words of appreciation, thereby highlighting the strong feelings of camaraderie among the graduates.

The participation of the alumni members, comprising graduates from various cohorts (going all the way back to more than three decades ago!) was especially heartening. Inspiring alumni with professional experience in various industries shared their stories and reflections on the impact the Department had in shaping their perspectives, and how these perspectives became the foundation from which they navigated their career trajectories. More pertinently, they also spoke of job opportunities ahead amid the economic gloom. 

Prof Yaacob Ibrahim (Engineering '80), Advisor to the President of the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), kick-started the event. A long-time active supporter of the Department, he advised students to take advantage of government-funded capacity building schemes that cater to a wide range of sectors. He also impressed upon them the need for lifelong learning and relearning. Students also had the opportunity to meet Ms Normala Manap (Arts and Social Sciences '82), Senior Associate Director at Duke-NUS Medical School, who shared her rich experiences in the frontlines of teaching and managing social services. She also spoke of myriad opportunities in the growing public health sector — especially in the areas of community and long-term healthcare, which require a deep understanding of people.

The Department was also pleased to welcome back Dr Norshahril Saat (Arts and Social Sciences '08), Senior Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute who spoke of how MS shaped his passion for teaching and research. He urged students to harness the niche knowledge of the Malays to give back to society through professional development and volunteerism. It was also inspiring to hear from Ms Azizah Zakariah (Arts and Social Sciences '00), a lecturer at Republic Polytechnic, as she shared her appreciation for how MS has shaped her career over the last two decades in the arts and theatre management and production. Students were also pleasantly surprised to be joined by Mr Izwan Othman (Engineering '14), current affairs researcher and news presenter at Berita Mediacorp. Izwan spoke on dynamic developments and traineeships in the media sector.

As the ceremony drew to a close, students were warmly welcomed into the alumni family and were encouraged to continue to enrich and strengthen their bonds with the community.  

Submitted by Assoc Prof Noor Aisha (Law '84).

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