New grad? Snap a selfie, dance, wave a lightsaber

Lighter moments included NUS’ Benjamin Tham snapping a selfie with President Tony Tan; NUS communications and new media graduate Samuel Lee; Singapore Poly biomedical science graduate Benjamin Ang with Dr Adrian Yeo, director of the school of chemi
Lighter moments included NUS’ Benjamin Tham snapping a selfie with President Tony Tan; NUS communications and new media graduate Samuel Lee; Singapore Poly biomedical science graduate Benjamin Ang with Dr Adrian Yeo, director of the school of chemical and life sciences; SP applied drama with psychology graduate Lim Chung Zheng, 20, with a dove; and SP visual effects and motion graphics graduate Iyaad Salleh, 23, with a lightsaber. (above)-- PHOTOS: BENJAMIN THAM, SAMUEL LEE, BENJAMIN ANG, SINGAPORE POLYTECHNIC FACEBOOK
Lighter moments included NUS’ Benjamin Tham snapping a selfie with President Tony Tan; NUS communications and new media graduate Samuel Lee; Singapore Poly biomedical science graduate Benjamin Ang with Dr Adrian Yeo, director of the school of chemi
Lighter moments included NUS’ Benjamin Tham snapping a selfie with President Tony Tan; NUS communications and new media graduate Samuel Lee; Singapore Poly biomedical science graduate Benjamin Ang with Dr Adrian Yeo, director of the school of chemical and life sciences; SP applied drama with psychology graduate Lim Chung Zheng, 20, with a dove (above); and SP visual effects and motion graphics graduate Iyaad Salleh, 23, with a lightsaber. -- PHOTOS: BENJAMIN THAM, SAMUEL LEE, BENJAMIN ANG, SINGAPORE POLYTECHNIC FACEBOOK
Lighter moments included NUS’ Benjamin Tham snapping a selfie with President Tony Tan; NUS communications and new media graduate Samuel Lee; Singapore Poly biomedical science graduate Benjamin Ang with Dr Adrian Yeo (above), director of the school
Lighter moments included NUS’ Benjamin Tham snapping a selfie with President Tony Tan; NUS communications and new media graduate Samuel Lee; Singapore Poly biomedical science graduate Benjamin Ang with Dr Adrian Yeo (above), director of the school of chemical and life sciences; SP applied drama with psychology graduate Lim Chung Zheng, 20, with a dove; and SP visual effects and motion graphics graduate Iyaad Salleh, 23, with a lightsaber. -- PHOTOS: BENJAMIN THAM, SAMUEL LEE, BENJAMIN ANG, SINGAPORE POLYTECHNIC FACEBOOK
Lighter moments included NUS’ Benjamin Tham snapping a selfie with President Tony Tan; NUS communications and new media graduate Samuel Lee (above); Singapore Poly biomedical science graduate Benjamin Ang with Dr Adrian Yeo, director of the school
Lighter moments included NUS’ Benjamin Tham snapping a selfie with President Tony Tan; NUS communications and new media graduate Samuel Lee (above); Singapore Poly biomedical science graduate Benjamin Ang with Dr Adrian Yeo, director of the school of chemical and life sciences; SP applied drama with psychology graduate Lim Chung Zheng, 20, with a dove; and SP visual effects and motion graphics graduate Iyaad Salleh, 23, with a lightsaber. -- PHOTOS: BENJAMIN THAM, SAMUEL LEE, BENJAMIN ANG, SINGAPORE POLYTECHNIC FACEBOOK
Lighter moments included NUS’ Benjamin Tham snapping a selfie with President Tony Tan (above); NUS communications and new media graduate Samuel Lee; Singapore Poly biomedical science graduate Benjamin Ang with Dr Adrian Yeo, director of the school
Lighter moments included NUS’ Benjamin Tham snapping a selfie with President Tony Tan (above); NUS communications and new media graduate Samuel Lee; Singapore Poly biomedical science graduate Benjamin Ang with Dr Adrian Yeo, director of the school of chemical and life sciences; SP applied drama with psychology graduate Lim Chung Zheng, 20, with a dove; and SP visual effects and motion graphics graduate Iyaad Salleh, 23, with a lightsaber. -- PHOTOS: BENJAMIN THAM, SAMUEL LEE, BENJAMIN ANG, SINGAPORE POLYTECHNIC FACEBOOK

Grads say they just wanted to inject some fun into a happy occasion

The selfie, crowned last year's word of the year by Oxford Dictionary, has invaded graduation season at polytechnics and universities this year.

Students, including a valedictorian from the National University of Singapore (NUS), drew applause and laughter - and caught presiding officers such as President Tony Tan Keng Yam by surprise - when they whipped out their smartphones and cameras for a picture.

Graduates said they recognised it was a formal occasion, but they wanted to do something extra to celebrate the end of their education journey.

"I think this was my first time meeting a Singapore leader up close, and I was trying to think of a way to commemorate my graduation. The opportunity presented itself and I seized it," said NUS physics graduate Benjamin Tham, who took a selfie with Dr Tan, who handed him his scroll.

"People may think it's inappropriate, but it's just a fun way to remember the ceremony," said the 26-year-old.

At the same ceremony two weeks ago, Ms Anisah Ahmad also took a selfie with Dr Tan, while making her valedictorian speech.

"I was recalling the memorable parts of school life, including collecting numerous selfies," said the 26-year-old, who graduated with a master's in public policy from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS.

To mark the end of school life, she proceeded to collect her last selfie with the next few lines: "Here's one for the road, Mr President, this one's for you."

She then snapped a selfie from the rostrum with Dr Tan in the background.

"It was a 10-minute speech and I thought it shouldn't be all so serious," she said.

Communications and new media graduate Samuel Lee, 24, who took a selfie before collecting his certificate from NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan, said: "Commencement has its serious parts, but there's time to add some fun and liven up the mood since it is a celebratory occasion."

Dr Joel Yang, who heads the master of counselling programme at SIM University, said young people take selfies to "express the state of their mood and share important experiences with others".

"And because they live in a digital world, selfies provide a way of affiliating with and being included in that world," he added.

The polytechnics, which held their graduation ceremonies in May, also had their share of quirky antics on stage.

One Singapore Polytechnic (SP) graduate took out a lightsaber on stage, while some others waved wands or donned wizard hats. Biomedical science graduate Benjamin Ang, 19, even brought a selfie stick and GoPro camera to snap a picture.

Temasek Polytechnic (TP) psychology studies graduate Peh Chun Hoe, 19, did a 10-second K-pop dance on stage. "It was my final moment in school and I wanted to make it a blast. The audience kept laughing," he said.

The director of TP's school of design, Mr Lim Chong Jin, who took several selfies with graduates on stage this year, said: "You really don't know what to expect, students are quite expressive."

"Graduation ceremonies these days are less solemn," he added. "It doesn't take away the importance of graduation. It livens up the mood in fact. We have to accept and embrace this tech-savvy generation."

ateng@sph.com.sg