Student Life Awards 2021: Honouring those who “live it up” in the face of the pandemic

banner image

The Student Life Awards event is back after a year -- with 21 outstanding student organisations and individuals honoured at a special edition on 6 Nov. Streamed live from the Shaw Foundation Alumni House, the Awards honoured them for their achievements and involvement in co-curricular activities. They have demonstrated resilience, creativity and perseverance in organising activities to engage the NUS community -- amid the pandemic.

The Awards’ theme, “Live It Up”, reminded students to live life to the fullest despite disruptions from the pandemic. Indeed, these student leaders have gone out of their comfort zone to serve their fellow students and the wider community.

“The pandemic has challenged us to explore creative ways to continue with activities and interactions in a safe way. We learn to be agile, and to adapt to changing environments. Through these rich learning experiences, students develop empathy, acquire life skills, and build character,” said NUS President, Professor Tan Eng Chye who was guest-of-honour at the event. He also commended NUS students for stepping up and going beyond themselves to engage, serve and lead the community in various ways.

Summing up the significance of the event, Dean, Office of Students Affairs, Associate Professor Ho Han Kiat said, “This really marks the core value of what our student leaders stand for. Student life is not just an afterthought of the whole student experience of receiving a tertiary education. It is central to everything that we do and a part of the integrated experience of what it means to have a holistic education.”

The hybrid event was streamed live from the Shaw Foundation Alumni House.

Inspiring others

The Leadership Award category honours exemplary individuals who empower and inspire their teams. There were five Merit Award and one Distinction Award recipients. Mr Jothinandan Pillay, recipient of the Distinction Award, hails from King Edward VII Hall. He led a dedicated group of eight other student leaders from the KEVII Peer Support Group to identify and provide support for students who were undergoing mental health struggles. His experience as a first responder to 999 calls and suicide cases during his National Service days, inspired him to start this meaningful project to extend a helping hand to those around, by providing intervention at the earlier stages before they escalate to bigger problems.


“It is tough to start something from scratch and you cannot do it alone. I am thankful for the support from my hall and the people who believed in me. I would like to dedicate this award to all my friends and family…"

– Jothinandan Pillay

The Merit Awards were given to:

  • Mr Zhou Xizhuang Michael, President, NUS Students’ Political Association
  • Mr Ezra Alvianto, Peer Mentor Lead, Prince George’s Park House
  • Ms Caitlin O’Hara, Community Service Director, NUS Medical Society
  • Mr Gokul Chinnappan, President, NUS Graduate Students’ Society
  • Mr Matthew Scott Wen Jiang Lau, Vice-Captain, NUS Sailing

Creating bonds

The Community Engagement Award category recognises projects or events that promoted community bonding and social integration within the NUS community. Two outstanding projects – 5unWaveX by NUS Kayaking, and Montage 2021 by The Photographic Society of NUS – were accorded the Distinction Awards in this category.

SLA4_Montage 2021 (NUSPS)

“Photography was a good way to tell stories and tug at the heart strings of its audience…”

– Mr Foo Zhi Jie, Project Director of Montage 2021

Undeterred by the COVID-19 Safe Management Measures (SMM), NUS Kayaking, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, organised a series of five 10km expeditions around Singapore’s coastlines. Helmed by Mr Tham Wen Long, NUS Kayaking faced many challenges in adapting to the permitted numbers of participants, in line with the SMM, and ensuring their safety.

Montage 2021 featured a competition, four workshops, a talk show, and an exhibition. It successfully brought together the photography community in NUS with the larger community in Singapore by connecting their audience with industry professionals and like-minded enthusiasts.

The Merit Awards were given to:

  • SparkSeed by NUS Students' Community Service Club
  • E-Nota 2021 by King Edward VII Hall
  • Kent Ridge Dance Production VI – Deep Space by Kent Ridge Hall
  • Inclusive Catalyst Series by NUS Enablers

Caring for others

Under the Community Service Award category, nine student groups were recognised for their contributions in community service, having organised projects or events that promoted volunteerism. Distinction Award recipient, Project R.I.C.E.+. by the Red Cross Youth – NUS Chapter, involved a nationwide collection and distribution drive that brought food and daily essentials to vulnerable families. The fundraising phase of the project raised $362,160 and benefited a total of 34,623 individuals.

“Community service means looking beyond our own perspective and understanding the various needs and wants of the people around us. Our tagline, ‘Every grain counts’, is what community service means to us,” said Ms Samantha Lock, Project Director for Project R.I.C.E.+.

The Merit Awards were given to:

  • Legal Education and Awareness Programme by NUS Pro Bono Group
  • Project We Are One II by NUS Students’ Community Service Club
  • SVC-YWCA Mentorship and Super JUNE-iors by NUS Students’ Science Club – Science Volunteer Corps
  • Pholunteers by Prince George's Park House
  • Raffles Hall Information Outlet (Project Rhino) by Raffles Hall – Raffles Volunteer Corps (RVC)
  • Engaging Peers and Members of Public with Ecosystem Restoration by Ridge View Residential College - RV FoRestore
  • Project Silvercare by NUS Medical Society
  • Youth Expedition Programme Goes Online – Dispense-A-Dream 2020 by NUS Pharmaceutical Society

The NUS student community also voted for their favourite group and individual to win the Campus Choice Award over an intensive two-week campaign. Mr Pillay who headed the KEVII Peer Support Group, walked away with the Campus Choice Award (Individual) and Project Rhino by Raffles Hall – RVC was crowned winner of the Campus Choice Award (Group).

Recap the memorable moments 



Writer: Office of Student Affairs 
This article first appeared on NUS News.