An idyllic spot in PGP House under a blanket of stars makes a perfect picnic experience for Residents and Resident Fellow, A/P Quan Chenggen. Photo taken pre-COVID-19.
1 December 2020
Residential staff are familiar faces to many students living on campus. You have seen them around – they are full-time Academic or Executive & Professional Staff members appointed by the Dean of Students to live in student residences. During the day, they are those who helm your lecture, assist you with your assignments, or process your administrative queries. After school hours, they remove their hats as staff members of the University to become on-campus students’ friends, consultants, protectors and advisors. Their dedication continues to be unyielding even in the face of difficulties, be it a pandemic or busy work schedule, to weather any storms with their students.
This academic year, in order to understand and appreciate the roles of resident staff and the reasons behind their commitment to the campus and the student body, we interviewed two newly appointed Resident Fellow (RF): Associate Professor Vinicius Rosa from the Faculty of Dentistry, RF at PGP House, and Mr. Joel Tay Yue Er, Lecturer at Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (YLLSOM) Otolaryngology, RF at Eusoff Hall.
Photo (from left to right): Joel Tay Yue Er and Vinicius Rosa
It is lovely to have both of you! Could you tell me a bit about your job scope as a Resident Fellow?
Vinicius Rosa (VR): My job entails taking care of students, ensuring that the regulations are observed and respected and crisis management. The first aspect involves not only making sure that “students are fine” but the whole spectrum of actions and activities that can enrich student’s life.
Joel Tay Yue Er (JT): I see my job as an opportunity to share life with the young adults in my community. I'm more than a couple of years ahead of them, and hopefully sharing my life experience will be beneficial in helping them make better decisions moving forward. The nuts and bolts of my job, however, involves ensuring all aspects of residential life are conducted safely, meaningfully, and purposefully.
What has brought you to commit to this position?
VR: For quite a long time I have been considering committing my time to support people. I just found that this position to be a perfect fit that could allow me to support students in so many ways. I have been living the “Academic life” for 20 years and I just love it. So, I was very excited about joining as a RF because I would finally be able to support people in an environment that is my daily punch of energy.
JT: I think a number of factors lined up that lead me here. The first was a chance meeting with another RF - hearing about his (and his family's) interactions with hall residents; this reminded me of my mentors, who had a tremendous impact on my path in life. When the opportunity came to apply for the position, I kept that in mind: that this is a chance to do for other students what my mentors had done for me. That helped me to commit to this position.
How is your schedule like every day? Is it difficult balancing this position with your day job and how do you manage it?
VR: In 2019, I was appointed as Assistant Dean of Research to support the administration of research in the Faculty of Dentistry. I also supervise the research of my own group and coordinate and teach a discipline for undergraduates. Every day is quite busy but I manage to accommodate every new task without being overwhelmed by the workload. Also, I work with very competent people that support several operations. Hence, assuming this role is not something that is demanding me to “create time”, but to “rearrange time”.
JT: My schedule varies, depending on the intensity of hall activities. The student leaders and JCRC do an amazing job of running many of the activities. I do get involved in meetings with the student leaders and the residential life team to get an overview of what is happening in the hall, and to ensure that all the activities align with whatever the JCRC is trying to achieve in the year. To be honest, there are times where I feel like my days are packed to the brim, with very little breathing space, but it's not impossible to overcome. It helps that most activities don't happen over weekends, so I get some time to spend with my family, and catching up with work.
What do you enjoy most about your position? What drives you to manage such a heavy workload to dedicate yourself to the students?
VR: To be in contact with students and to contribute to enrich their lives beyond the classes. It is very cool to be part of a dynamic environment with so many activities going on. Hence, it is an honour to be a person whom students can count with, someone that can offer some views and share experiences to help them to grow further.
JT: There are so many things I enjoy! But I'll state one: being around the students. Students have a certain energy and enthusiasm about life that is inspiring to me. I also really love learning how young adults think - it's different, and I've learned much from my student leaders.
In your current position, what do you wish to contribute to the student community?
VR: I come from Brazil and have learnt so much from Singapore in the last eight years. It is evident that the cultural backgrounds in Singapore are very diverse and the more we share, the more we grow with new perspectives that can be completely unknown for us. I have changed in so many ways by observing, experiencing and trying new cultures, habits, values and behaviour. Hence, I believe that we will all benefit from the cultural exchange.
JT: I'm still fairly new, and am still trying to figure out how I can use my gifts to contribute to the student community at large. However, if I may paraphrase Anna in “Frozen II” (my daughters love the movie), I'll just try to do the "next right thing" for the "next right person" I meet in the hall.
At a peer mentor bonding session at PGP House.
What do you wish to say to the students staying at your hall/residence?
VR: I am certainly excited to work and have a great time with you all. The interactions have been limited for our safety, but very fruitful. I am very grateful for the life I have but I can assure: that there were no better days compared with the days as an undergraduate student. So make the most of it, study a lot but be productive for your lives too, enjoy your friends, take part in activities because this great time needs to be lived in full.
JT: Time is probably the most precious commodity. Therefore, don't waste it. It might seem like you do have time ahead, but before you know it, University is over and you're out getting a job and trying to navigate life. That doesn't mean you need to fill your life with activities though. What it means is, fill your life with meaning. Fill it with purpose. And use that time you're given wisely.
Thank you very much Professor Rosa and Mr. Tay. It really warms the cockles of my heart to hear your responses and to know that our campus is constantly anchored and enriched by people with such dedication and wisdom like you two! We wish you the best in your journey as a resident fellow, and that you have health and wisdom to continue to contribute to our NUS community!
With special thanks to Mr. Tay and Prof. Rosa for your participation and responses to this email interview.