Miss Chan Hoi Ki, 22, has always been interested in the sciences, so she was attracted to the CN Yang Scholars Programme (CNYSP) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Catering to science and engineering students, it offers core modules in other forms of sciences (mathematics, chemistry and physics) and would provide her with the opportunity to learn more.

As a CN Yang scholar, she was awarded the Nanyang Scholarship and was provided hostel accommodation during her four years of study as well as financial support.

There is also no bond attached to the Nanyang Scholarship.

She says: “I could focus on my studies and myself, without worrying about these issues.”

She adds: “The buildings and facilities in NTU are also modern and well-equipped, especially the School of Biological Sciences (SBS), where I am based.

“NTU, being a fast-rising young university, gave me the assurance that the school will continuously strive to improve what they can to provide for their students.”

Self development

Starting from the first year of her studies, Miss Chan was involved in research.

“Overall, CNYSP is very centred around research and for developing potential PhD students. There is a lot of support provided for those intending to enter the research field in the future,” she says.

The community of CN Yang scholars is also very supportive. In her first year, when Miss Chan needed a lot of guidance with challenging mathematics and physics core modules, help was readily rendered.

Lecturers are also friendly and students can approach them or e-mail questions to be addressed directly or during the next lesson, she says.

Each CNYSP student is also assigned a mentor (CNYSP alumnus) throughout their academic programme at NTU.

As part of her scholarship, she went on a six-month overseas exchange in the first semester of her third year, from August 2015 to January last year to Stockholm University in Sweden.

CN Yang scholars are guaranteed an overseas stint and receive a travel grant of $5,000.

Miss Chan was able to take modules not available at NTU such as Evolutionary Biology and Animal Morphology and Function, and received credit transfers. She also managed to travel around most of Europe during this period.

Her internship is with start-up company Asia Genomics, which she found via the NTU career portal. While she is attached to its operations department, she will also have the chance to learn about marketing and sales.

Academics aside, she prepared lessons for children in Vietnam as part of an overseas communiity involvement programme.

Also, she was part of the planning committee for the Freshmen Orientation Camps of both the CNYSP and Hall of Residence 13 — where she stays.

A self-professed introvert, these activities helped her to come out of her shell.

Pursuit of knowledge

Miss Chan is keen to pursue a master’s in the near future, but wants to gain work experience before furthering her studies.

She is particularly interested in the molecular basis of diseases and the possible ways one can treat incurable diseases of the modern world.

“My interest in biology is mainly driven by the fact that the field still has many knowledge gaps to fill. There are many unanswered questions, and it is a dream of mine to answer one of them in the future,” she says.

The CNYSP provides an option for a joint PhD at NTU/an overseas university.

“My advice to incoming scholars is to experience as much as possible, as NTU provides a wealth of opportunities for its students. It is also easy to meet new people with similar interests here as there are many avenues to socialise,” she adds.