After three intense years balancing his school work and co-curricular activities at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, the last thing Mr Alphonsus Chern wanted to do in his next phase of education was to take on roles apart from his studies.
But at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the former communication studies student was persuaded to take on the job of chief editor of the student-run campus newspaper, The Nanyang Chronicle.
The stint exposed the 36-year- old, who graduated in 2008, to the more colourful side of varsity life outside the lecture theatres and tutorial rooms. "The NTU experience... shaped my personal and professional life, and was both fruitful and complete," he said.
Mr Chern has since gone on to capture the intriguing side of life in his photos as an executive photojournalist at The Straits Times.
Yesterday, he was one of 36 alumni honoured for their stellar achievements and contributions to society at NTU's annual Nanyang Alumni Awards. He was recognised for his accomplishments in photography.
A HUGE HONOUR
To be a member of this league is a great personal honour for me.
MR ALPHONSUS CHERN, on the NTU award.
Earlier this year, Mr Chern bagged the bronze award for feature photography at the prestigious Asian Media Awards, organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. The award was for a series of photos of the Black Knights, Singapore's elite aerobatics team.
Mr Chern also won a hat-trick of awards at the Singapore Press Holdings' annual awards ceremony for its English/Malay/Tamil Media group in March.
"To be a member of this league is a great personal honour for me," he said of the NTU award.
Other outstanding NTU alumni recognised for their work include Indonesian police chief Tito Karnavian, who has been leading his country's fight against terrorism, and xinyao pioneer Liang Wern Fook, who has written songs for stars such as Jacky Cheung and Stefanie Sun.
In his speech at the event yesterday, Acting Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung urged the NTU alumni to help the younger generation.
"The footprints of alumni sink more deeply than we think," he said. "In a fast-pace, fast-changing world, young people are on a search for identity and anchors, as well as practical wisdom on what they need to do to prepare for the world out there."