Scholarship recipient chooses local university

President's Scholarship recipient Stefan Liew Jing Rui (centre) with his father Mr Raymond Liew (right), 45, and brother Mr Donovan Liew, 22.
President's Scholarship recipient Stefan Liew Jing Rui (centre) with his father Mr Raymond Liew (right), 45, and brother Mr Donovan Liew, 22.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

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 scholarship holder, is choosing to stay true to his roots - he has enrolled in local liberal arts college Yale-NUS.

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

Said Mr Liew, 19, who was formerly from the River Valley High School Integrated Programme: "A liberal arts college will provide me with a different perspective."

Mr Liew, who was president of his school's student council, added: "Spending six years in River Valley... some might say it could be an echo chamber, and I have to break through that bubble."

He decided to sign on with the police force after a short internship last December during which he went on patrols. He said that he was inspired by the work done by the police and the fact that they worked with a wide range of organisations.

Going to Yale-NUS College will also allow him to stay close to his family, said Mr Liew.

 

After his parents separated when he was 13, Mr Liew and his elder 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 them a stable life, said Mr Liew.

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 said, adding that his father considered quitting his job at one point, but carried on for the sake of his family.

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

The last President's Scholarship recipient to study in a local university was Mr Arturo Neo from Hwa Chong Institution, who was awarded the scholarship in 2014 to study medicine at the National University of Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2018, with the headline 'Scholarship recipient chooses local university'. Print Edition | Subscribe