It all started with a childhood dream ..
Everyone has a childhood dream. Most children want to grow up to be some great people; for me, I wanted to be a great scientist, like Albert Einstein. After a few undergraduate years, I had second thoughts. Eventually, I toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher instead, as this opens up opportunities to ‘teach’ future generations knowledge and skills in the hope that someday, they will help fulfill my dream.
When I was all geared to join NIE upon graduation, my supervisor encouraged me to give A*Star Graduate Scholarship (AGS) a try. After mulling over it, I heeded his advice. Interestingly, I hesitated again when I was offered the Scholarship, as I was unsure of my capability to complete the grad studies. On the other hand, with Singapore developing itself as an R&D hub, this was a great opportunity to equip myself with the right qualification and skills to contribute to this goal. My friends even told me that with a PhD, I can still ‘teach’, but to more ‘mature’ students instead. After some thoughts, I took a deep breath and made the plunge – I was admitted into NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering (NGS).
|My PhD Journey so far ..|
To me, doing a PhD is definitely not an easy task, although NGS’ requirement of achieving CAP>3.8 was admittedly not that cruel nor unattainable. However, I was still devastated when I was not able to satisfy the requirement. Nevertheless, I worked hard and managed to raise my CAP to higher than 3.8. But academic studies were not the worst.
It was research work that was painstaking, and the rewards from such hard work often came late. After spending one and a half years on research, nothing turned up. That was when I began to doubt myself. I shared my struggles and difficulties with my supervisors and Professor Raj (NGS), including contemplating dropping out of the course. However, they were very encouraging. Fortunately, my research finally yielded some results, and this helped to lift my spirits.
What I have learned ..
With failures along the way, I realized that it takes more than diligence. To me, what matters most is “Perseverance” - the “Never Say Die” attitude. I realized my initial impatience and eagerness to see instant results did me a disservice. Now, failures present themselves as opportunities to hone my skills of identifying what has gone wrong, and to try out new methods.
What was most wonderful and invaluable was to spend my third year with Georgia Institute of Technology in United States, thanks to the collaboration project I am doing currently. A*Star and NGS have also been very supportive in my attachment. I have learned a lot for this is my first time going away this far, and staying away from home for so long. I gained a wealth of skills and experiences - beyond studies.
How time flies. If everything goes well, I will be submitting my thesis by end of July 2007. After fulfilling contractual obligations, I will be forging a new career as a researcher. Who knows what will happen? I maybe a lecturer (=teacher) or a researcher (=scientist)? Only time will tell. Wish me luck!