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Excellence, Enjoyment &
Arts Valedictorian for Commencement 2001,
Edna is content to remain anonymous to the public eye.
And it is in the education
arena that she hopes to make the difference.
photos: mervyn sek
arrives way before time for this Thursday evening interview set at a time
any sane person would be rushing off from work. With
heavy brows and a frown, Edna Tan has the mien of someone who’s
just emerged from a gruelling overnighter. She sweeps into the Starbucks at Raffles
City and takes a few quick glances around. She seats herself at our table. We smile warmly and ask if she
wants a drink. She gives us an icy look, and mutters, “I’m
not a coffee person.”
She leaves the table to
get a tall Hot Choco. We wonder if we got off on a wrong foot.
returns so composed and eloquent that we wonder if we are
interrogating a clone. She grabs a chocolate donut from the stack at
our table, and starts munching. We safely conclude that the ice had
significantly been melted by her intake of chocolate. We now realise
why she describes herself as “unpredictable, passionate and
she did not get a chance to read history in secondary school, Edna trusted her instincts and pursued
History (“It’s not just an interest; it’s my passion!”) at A-levels &
at NUS. Indeed,
all these paid off when she achieved entrance to the Honours
Programme for both Literature and History.
“Things happen for a reason…
If you don’t know it now,
you will find it someday.”
Public Service Commission teaching scholar 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. "Interest and
passion", Edna vouched, "and not just where the crowd is
going, should decide what you do in the varsity."
she has toyed with the idea of becoming an air stewardess -
"What better way to see the world?" she asked - Edna has her two feet well-planted on
She believes that the education should provide the necessary 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.
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, this
trip has enriched and benefited the Singaporean volunteers more than the
Chinese villagers in many aspects!"
asked as to what or whom does she accredits her success to, Edna
expressed her heartfelt gratitude to her elder brother, who pushed
her in her studies when they were young, much to her detest back
then. She also credits support from family and close friends for her
sterling academic performance.
about life, Edna shared with us an important principle which she religiously follows, “Things
happen for a reason… If you don’t know it now, you will find it
someday.” That’s why she would not change anything in the 22
years of her life even if that’s possible. □
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