Back in 2011, the inaugural Class of 2011 graduated and now in 2021, Duke-NUS marked the Class’ momentous 10th Year celebration with a Reunion. Doctors Rena Dharmawan, Shan Koh Bundgaard, Chia Ghim Song and Lim Kheng Choon from this graduating class joined the department of Alumni Relations as Reunion Co-Chairs, to plan the event and engage their classmates.
Invited guests included alumni from the Class of 2011, their families and key faculty members who guided the class and contributed to the founding of the school. Guests who were located overseas joined in via Zoom, including Former Dean, Prof Ranga Krishnan who tuned in from Rush Medical College in Chicago; co-creator of TeamLEAD, Prof Doyle Graham who logged in from North Carolina; and former Student Affairs Dean, Prof Craig Stenberg who participated virtually from Arizona with his wife. Locally, it was an honour to host Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information of Ministry of Health; along with other local founders such as Prof Soo Khee Chee (Medicine ’95), Prof Patrick Casey, Prof Robert Kamei, Prof Thiru Thirumoorthy, Prof Sandy Cook, Prof Lim Shih Hui (Medicine ’82) and Prof Simon Ong (Medicine ’90). Additionally, Mr Tony Chew and wife, who were an integral source of support and motivation for alumni development, were also present. Lastly, core admin staff such as Ms Goh Sok Hong from the former MERE department – who remains to this day, the key personnel who runs the curriculum with great support from the faculty members – also joined in the celebration of this milestone. It was heartwarming to see everyone catching up and reminiscing the good old days.
After a warm welcome by Dr Dharmawan (’11), Dean Thomas Coffman gave an opening address. Other programme highlights included a video collage, created from nostalgic photos collated from the Office of Education and contributed by some of the invited guests. The group enjoyed the quiz of trivia questions about the class and student days in Duke-NUS.
The highlight of the reunion was the Reflections segment. Moderated by Dr Tina Tan (’11), this segment featured alumni and faculty who came together to speak about their shared experiences and growth in pioneering the Duke-NUS journey, and forging its formative identity. Prof Ranga, Prof Soo, Prof Casey and Mr Chew shared memorable personal accounts of the obstacles the school faced well before the first class of students arrived on campus. The tone was one of shared achievement, and the audience appreciated the passion and importance of making Duke-NUS a reality. It was of no surprise that Prof Ranga led the sharing – having played an instrumental role as the Dean, the memories and countless stories of overcoming the initial challenges when setting up Duke-NUS together with the founding faculty members, still remain vivid till today.
Submitted by Ms Stella Liang, Duke-NUS Office of Alumni Relations.
To round up the event, alumni also shared their early memories with the school, weaving in personal stories of the former campus (former School of Nursing block), TeamLEAD, the nascent colleges and the unique stresses a pioneering cohort faced. Alumni also reflected on what they valued in establishing the school’s traditions and paving the way for future batches.