Every year, over 1,400 students commence from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). 2012 is no different, except that most of its graduates had a memorable send-off! All FASS Departments were encouraged to organise events to celebrate their graduants’ success and to welcome them as NUS’s newest alumni. Ranging from teas, lunches and dinners to a homecoming weekend and graduation party, the graduants (BA, Honours and graduate studies) had a great time meeting with one another for the last time as a unified cohort.
Called ‘Celebrating Commencement Class 2012’, the FASS hopes to inculcate a spirit of camaraderie among its graduants, and to bond them to their individual departments. Most of the celebratory events were in the month of July, to coincide with Commencement 2012.
The Department of Social Work had an extra special reason to celebrate as 2012 marks its 60th anniversary. One of the department’s most prominent alumnus Mr. S. R. Nathan was also conferred an Honorary Doctor of Letters at the commencement ceremony of 5 July along with Social Work graduates. A lunch was organised immediately after the event at University Town and was attended by over 90 students, parents, guests and staff.
The Department of Communications and New Media welcomed its newest alumni by organising a Homecoming event for over 100 guests on Saturday 21 July. A unique feature of the celebration was a batik-painting activity that took place alongside the festivities. After the professional batik painters laid the basic motif, all guests were encouraged to add their individual touches. The end result is a colourful masterpiece reflecting the vibrancy of its graduating students and faculty members. An incredible keepsake to remember the Class of 2012!
Many other departments held celebratory events on the same day of the students’ commencement. The events mostly took place on NUS grounds, providing students an opportunity to show their family members well-loved ‘memory spots’. For example, the Geography class had its farewell lunch in the Earth Lab – appropriately so because the Lab was where students enjoyed a warm welcome tea three or four years before. At the lunch, Ms. Joanna Lim (former three-time president of the NUS Geographical Society) was recognised for her contributions to the department and her fund-raising efforts which saw over 77 per cent of geography graduates giving back to the university. The Department of Geography had the highest proportion of graduants participating in the Annual Class Giving 2012 in FASS.
The South Asian Studies Programme had its commencement lunch right in their department corridor, a place all students find intimate and welcoming! Although the programme graduates a small number of students each year, it is clear that graduates and faculty colleagues enjoy a very close bond. At the lunch, new graduant Ms Priscilla Vincent revealed she had enrolled in NUS hoping to major in another discipline, until she took SN1101E and was fascinated by to know more about the region and its people. During her time at NUS, she interned at an NGO in India where she helped villagers acquire simple IT and language skills. Her stint was also featured in a Straits Times article in December 2009.
Economics graduates were invited to a dinner organised by the NUS Economics Alumni. Over 100 people attended the event including new alumni, many of whom were meeting the new Head of Department Professor Julian Wright for the first time. Apart from dinner, the alumni enjoyed an evening of games (Bingo and Treasure Hunt) and new friendships (guests from SMU Economics Society were also invited, allowing for bonds to be established between SMU and NUS economics students and alum).
Souvenirs galore also marked the celebratory events. Chinese Studies students were most fortunate to have a faculty member in their midst, Dr Ho Chee Lick, who is a most accomplished artist and calligrapher. Each student left with a card bearing farewell wishes, written in beautiful calligraphy. The Chinese Studies event was very well attended by family members, especially parents. The commencement celebratory event provided an opportunity for students to publicly acknowledge their parents’ love and sacrifice. All the graduating students were also warmly invited to join the NUS Chinese Alumni Association at the party.
On 9 July 2012, the Department of Psychology organised a special pre-Commencement Graduation Lunch for its graduating students. Directed by Stephen Lim with the support of Lee Li Neng, Lim Yonghao, and Exco members of the Psychology Student Society, this event attracted around 200 guests, including graduands, their loved ones, student alumni, as well as Faculty members. An elaborate buffet-style lunch comprising of a live chef station was accompanied by special instant photography services which, Psychology Head A/P Sim Tick Ngee commented, “made the occasion much more meaningful as a commencement occasion”.
The Philosophy Commencement Tea Party was held on 9 July 2012, to coincide with the subsequent evening graduation by the Philosophy cohort. Although the numbers were small, a meaningful time was had by all who were present. Graduands mingled with their lecturers, reminisced about their time in the Department and spoke of their plans after graduation. A ‘photo-booth’ was set up in the Resource Room, courtesy of Honours student Jonathan Sim. Graduands put on their gowns and took photos with each other, and also with the Head of Department A/P Tan Sor Hoon who gamely brought her own academic regalia for the occasion. The day ended with the distribution of a door gift – a mug designed by A/P John Holbo, in which mortarboards are interspersed with names like Confucius and Kant.
Indeed, most of the commencement lunches/dinners and events were very well attended by the graduants’ family members, especially parents and siblings. The festive family mood is most appropriate reflecting the warm camaraderie FASS hopes to foster among its students and graduates.