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19 September 2001:

Enjoyment, Excellence and Edna

Arts Valedictorian for Commencement 2001, Edna is content to remain anonymous to the public eye. It is in the education arena that she hopes to make a difference.

While she has toyed with the idea of becoming an air stewardess -- "What better way to see the world?" she asked - Edna Tan has two feet well-planted on the ground, in the classroom. The Public Service Commission teaching scholar believes that education should provide a strong foundation before asking students to think out of the box. Hence, it is in education that she sees herself contributing to society and sharing the valuable life lessons she has learned.

Edna feels that she has done far better at NUS than she did previously in school because the university environment allowed her to focus on her interest. Even though she did not get a chance to do History in secondary school, Edna pursued history ("It's not just an interest, it's a passion") at A-levels & at NUS. According to Edna, "interest and passion should decide what you do in the varsity, not just where the crowd is going."

She also credits support from family and close friends for her sterling academic performance.

A highlight of her undergraduate education was a 15-day community project trip to China. Wanting to discover more about life and herself, Edna helped to build a primary school in a rural Chinese village, installed electric lights and fans, and gave basic English lessons to the village children. The experience changed her world-view. "They are much more appreciative of the things around them, because they have less to begin with... In fact, the trip enriched and benefited the Singaporean volunteers more than the Chinese villagers in many aspects!"

Philosophical about life, Edna says that "things happen for a reason. If you don't know it now, you will find it someday." That is why she would not change anything in the 22 years of her life even if it were possible.

By Lim Kar Keat, Fernandez Charmaine Cecilia and Mervyn Sek (students of EL3271)