Moving onto a different track - thanks to School of the Arts

Ms Cheri Wee (far right, in maroon dress) initially studied dance at the School of the Arts, but in October, she will be pursuing a degree in psychology and philosophy at the University of Oxford.
Ms Cheri Wee (far right, in maroon dress) initially studied dance at the School of the Arts, but in October, she will be pursuing a degree in psychology and philosophy at the University of Oxford.PHOTO: ANDRE CHONG

Ms Cheri Wee enrolled in the School of the Arts (Sota) with a dream to become a world- renowned ballerina.

But in October, she will be pursuing a degree in psychology and philosophy at the University of Oxford.

"Sota gave me a safe space to fail, for experimentation," said the 19-year-old, who received the Prime Minister's Valedictorian award as the most outstanding student in her cohort, at Sota's fifth annual Awards Day yesterday.

"Six long years of blood, sweat and tears, and I've found that my place isn't as a dancer on stage," she added.

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Ms Wee is not a rarity among Sota students, who initially join the school focusing on an arts discipline.

Over 70 per cent of its graduates have gone on to pursue non-arts- related university courses, said Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu, in an address to award recipients.

At Sota, a maximum of 200 students per cohort take a six-year integrated arts and academic curriculum leading to the International Baccalaureate diploma or the career-related programme.

On top of their academic subjects, they must specialise in one arts subject - dance, music, theatre, literary arts, visual arts or film.

The percentage of graduates pursuing non-arts-related university courses has increased from 60 per cent in 2012 to 83 per cent in 2015.

"We aim to help our students achieve what they want to achieve, rather than make recommendations that they should study a specific range of courses," said Sota principal Lim Geok Cheng.

For Ms Wee, it was through dance that she discovered other interests. "There are so many things the study of dance could (lead on) to, such as psychology," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2017, with the headline 'Moving onto a different track - thanks to School of the Arts'. Print Edition | Subscribe