Five receive President's Scholarship in Istana ceremony

President's Scholarship recipients (from left) Penny Shi Peng Yi Penny, Stefan Liew Jing Rui, Sharmaine Koh Mingli, Alden Tan Ming Yang and Tan Xin Hwee. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - As a recipient of the President's Scholarship, he could have chosen to go to almost any university in the world.

But Mr Stefan Liew Jing Rui, who is also a Singapore Police Force scholar, is choosing to stay true to his roots - he has enrolled in local liberal arts college Yale-NUS.

Mr Liew, 19, is one of five recipients of this year's President's Scholarship, the most prestigious of all undergraduate awards given out by the Public Service Commission.

The other recipients, all 19, are Mr Alden Tan Ming Yang and Ms Tan Xin Hwee from Raffles Institution, and Ms Sharmaine Koh Mingli and Ms Penny Shi Peng Yi from Hwa Chong Institution.

They received their scholarship awards on Thursday (Aug 16) from President Halimah Yacob at the Istana.

At the award ceremony, President Halimah told them that the best and brightest who have benefited from the system would be expected to contribute more to society.

She said: "Securing the President's Scholarship and achieving great heights in your education and career, are not ends in themselves. Ultimately, that success must be translated into tangible contributions towards our effort to build a fair, just and equitable society for the benefit of everyone."

Mr Liew will study liberal arts at Yale-NUS, while Mr Tan will study economics, statistics and data science at Yale University.

Also heading to Yale University is Ms Koh, who will study history and politics. Ms Tan will be reading psychology and philosophy at Oxford University while Ms Shi will be reading urban studies at Stanford University.

President's Scholarships have been awarded since 1966. Four to six were awarded each year for the past 10 years.

Said Mr Liew, who was formerly from the River Valley High School Integrated Programme: "A liberal arts college will provide me with a different perspective."

He said going to Yale-NUS will allow him to stay close to his family.

After his parents separated when he was 13, Mr Liew and his older brother were brought up by their father, a production manager at an electronics company.

It was not a glamorous job, but his father earned enough to give the brothers a stable life, Mr Liew said.

And that taught him the importance of family.

"Pursuing (academic) excellence does not have to come at the expense of losing precious family time," he said.

"My father put in a lot of effort to give us a future he could never experience," he added.

Seeing his father carrying out his duty to the family has cultivated a sense of responsibility in Mr Liew, who often volunteers for social and environment causes.

"My family is just one of thousands around Singapore, and all these families have different stories. Some of them may be in even less privileged situations."

His personal goal, he said, is to learn to appreciate these hidden stories even more, through volunteering for different local causes.

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