A desire to work in the science industry and play a part in developing innovative medical solutions led Mr Teo Wei Kiat to choose chemistry as his field of study in university.

The 22-year-old holder of the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS), a multi-industry scholarship in partnership with the Singapore Government, is currently in his first year at the National University of Singapore.

“I am aware that passion is an essential ingredient for a successful career and a scholarship from a field that I am not interested in will only impede my career progression. I wanted to find a scholarship specific to my field of interest,” he says.

Making the right choice

When he was searching for suitable scholarships, he found that few large pharmaceutical companies offered their own scholarships.

The SgIS offers scholarships from various companies across industries such as the arts, healthcare, engineering, tourism and infocomm technology.

He eventually chose the scholarship offered by pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) through SgIS. The scholarship requires him to serve a four-year bond after graduation.

According to him, the scholarship is useful as it not only covers tuition fees, but also secures him a job after graduation.

Says Mr Teo: “It provides me with financial security and a head start in my future career. With the scholarship, I can dedicate my time fully to pursuing and excelling in my studies. Also, I could immediately proceed from my diploma to university without taking a couple of years off to work.”

A full-term scholarship with SgIS covers tuition fees, living allowances, computer allowance, hostel allowance, summer programme or field trip sponsorship, CCA sponsorship and overseas exchange programme sponsorship.

Research grounds

Mr Teo already had an interest in medicinal chemistry, and his interest in the research discipline of medicinal chemistry was sparked after he went through an internship as a student at Singapore Polytechnic.

He pursued a diploma course in Applied Chemistry with Pharmaceutical Sciences, and was involved in research experiments for his final-year project.

He worked with his mentor, Dr Kelvin Ng from the Singapore MIT-Alliance in Research & Technology (SMART) of the interdisciplinary research group, Centre of Environmental Sensing & Modeling (CENSAM), and assisted in the characterisation of a tri-optical water quality sensor.

“Although Dr Ng designed most of the experiments, our team was also tasked to come up with experiments on our own. This internship was instrumental in igniting my passion to pursue science-related research as a career,” he says.

“I hope to play a part in developing new medicinal products to alleviate the inconvenience and pain inflicted on patients from some medical practices for various diseases as well as to look for a cure for such diseases,” he adds.

He also had another internship at A*STAR IBN where he was involved in a youth research programme.

There, he assisted his mentor to understand the synthesis and characterisation of gold nanoclusters species, still a relatively new field of research. The experience made him want to contribute further to this field as he realised that there is so much more to be discovered in chemistry, which could lead to the invention of new medicines.

Industry exposure

His scholarship paves the way for him to join a large organisation immediately after graduation.

Says Mr Teo: “The SgIS is a big step towards my career aspirations as I get to join a world-class pharmaceutical company. I seek a position where I am involved in initiating innovative solutions to tackle modern world problems.”

He looks forward to his internship with GSK during the school holidays after the first year of university.

The SgIS scholarship also offers recipients the opportunity to join the SgIS Scholars’ Network, where scholars get to interact with their peers in other fields of study.

Mr Teo joined the SgIS Orientation Camp for new scholars and found the dialogue sessions by industry experts very useful, as they shared their experiences and what employers look out for in new hires.

Another event that left an impression on him was the SgIS Leaders’ Forum with Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), who shared his personal experience on seizing opportunities and the importance of preparation in an ever-changing world.

He plans to participate in more such events and recommends the scholarship to others.

He says: “If you are sure of the direction to take for your career and SgIS is able to help you achieve your career goals, then why not apply for it?”