Alexander TanAlex

MBchB - Medicine

Winner of the Singapore Merit Undergraduate Scholarship 2014

In 2011, I sat for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in my school in Singapore, and scored a total of 40 out of 45 points. With the grades I had received, I began to consider the areas of work that I was interested and passionate about, and that led me to decide to study Medicine in the UK. However, as part of my country’s constitution, I had to serve 2 years in the Singapore Army before beginning my studies at the University of Sheffield in September 2014. It was a life- changing experience that has both added on, and changed my life for the better. I was enlisted in the Singapore Armed Forces for 2 years from 2012 till March 2014, and during this time I was a full time soldier.

Sheffield was clearly a place that attracted many different cultures and people from different walks of life, and by meeting new people in the course of my studies, I felt that it would certainly give me a global perspective to my passion in Medicine and helping people. Furthermore, with Sheffield Medical School being one of the top few in the country with great testimonies from previous graduates, I was excited to be just applying to study here.

I feel extremely honoured and humbled to be recognized by the University for my achievements. It was completely unexpected and I have to say it feels great to be empowered by the University with this award. I am immensely grateful to the university, and it will certainly spur me on to do my utmost in all that I do in my course

The most enjoyable thing would be the fact that people who are experts in their field conduct all the lectures, and more importantly, have a burning passion for their subject. It is very obvious when you see someone lecturing based on routine, as compared to someone lecturing because of his passion and keenness to learn more about his subject, and I have to say that there is clearly more of the latter in the University.

The teaching methods are diverse and cater to all the needs of various students. For example, apart from normal lectures, we have Integrated- learning activities, that are quite like tutorial group sessions, or early year attachments to various GP practices that allow us to habituate and take away the fear that can be involved in the role of a doctor in future. It is both effective on a macro (whole course) level as well as on a micro (tutorial group or individual) level. I thoroughly enjoy it.

The benefit of an education from the University of Sheffield is something that cannot be displayed on a piece of paper, and it far exceeds that of other graduates from other universities. I would say that the university gives its students a sense of belonging and identity in the many student union activities that students can get involved in. Furthermore, because of this sense of identity, I feel that students are more confident in their area of study, and have the potential to stand out of the crowd, even if they are afraid to do so. The students will be bold enough to question, to be inquisitive, to challenge the norm, to challenge the status quo and create a new culture in the area of our passion. We accomplish this by first being the culture, and to make an impact in each and every area of our studies.

The student life in the university has been very fun and enjoyable, and despite the workload of our different courses, there is always a balance for time to relief our stress and to just have a fun time. It encourages hard work whilst at the same time encouraging students to just enjoy their university student life, a very fine balance that not many can accomplish.

After my course, I hope to have a wider perspective and greater wisdom in my course, as well as have a clearer direction of the path to which I can best orientate the skills that have been imparted to me in university. I possibly hope to travel the world to see different cultures and at the same time being able to sharpen and harness the potential of the skills that I have learned in Medicine. I hope to be able to make an impact on the students in the university, and at the same time gain new friends, or brothers, or sisters, from all walks of life, from all over the world that I can share the rest of my journey with.

I would say the only important thing is to keep an open mind, and forget whatever inhibitions or pre-conceived ideas you may have about university and its people. When you get here, it can be stressful as it can be fun, but do your best in all that you do and enjoy every moment that you have because you’ve only got it once. Seize everyday like it’s precious; seize everyday because it’s a gift. Amen.