Mother of three young kids is SUSS' first PhD graduate in study of elderly issues

Dr Amberyce Ang is the Singapore University of Social Sciences' first graduate with a PhD in gerontology. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Growing up with a grandmother with dementia sparked Dr Amberyce Ang's interest in caring for the elderly and the issues affecting their well-being, and this led her to pursue a PhD in the subject.

Then a mother to two young children, she managed to juggle the heavy coursework and fieldwork, persisting even after getting pregnant with her third child midway through her studies.

On Wednesday, she became the Singapore University of Social Sciences' (SUSS) first graduate with a PhD in gerontology.

Gerontology is the study of the social, cultural, psychological, cognitive and biological aspects of ageing.

Dr Ang, 40, joined a cohort of 2,854 graduands at this year's convocation ceremonies, which began on Wednesday at the SUSS campus in Clementi.

Some 2,555 are graduating with bachelor's degrees in fields such as translation, accountancy and counselling, while another 259 will receive postgraduate qualifications.

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing, who was the guest of honour on Wednesday, spoke on redefining success in terms of contributions rather than achievements.

He urged graduates to think beyond their achievements and break away from a narrow definition of success by considering instead their contributions to society and their impact on others.

Mr Chan said: "When you define success by achievement, you may find yourself coming up short more often than not.

"When you define success by your contributions, however, you are always in control as you can contribute regardless of your station in life."

President Halimah Yacob, who is the patron of SUSS, was also at the ceremony.

SUSS founding president Cheong Hee Kiat, in his last convocation speech before retirement, said graduates should put in conscious effort to keep on learning.

Professor Cheong also urged graduates to make their next life stage count.

He said: "Keep being nosy about life and what it brings. Don't dismiss that new app or fad as something only for the next generation."

He retires on Dec 31, having been the university's president since 2005. Professor Tan Tai Yong will take over from Jan 1, 2023.

SUSS has 2,854 graduands in this year's convocation, which began on Oct 5. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Prof Cheong said SUSS will roll out new curricula, including a major thrust in adult education, in the next academic year to prepare its students for the future.

He said he hopes SUSS has imparted graduates with a community spirit, and the idea that their education is not only for themselves, but also for the benefit of the whole society.

Echoing his speech, Dr Ang said she hopes her future research work in gerontology will contribute to how Singapore cares for its seniors.

The civil servant, whose children are aged three, seven and 10 years old, said: "I always felt like I wanted to do more, but felt ill-equipped to do so."

Dr Ang added that she wants to continue with research work and to teach.

Meanwhile, she will focus on a pilot project targeted at primary schoolchildren to combat ageism at a young age.

  • Additional reporting by Jasmine Teo

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