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Sharing the Goodwill – PhD Student S Supraja


Just 24, NTU EEE PhD student S Supraja has already been giving back to society for half her life.

S Supraja is a person who believes that giving is better than receiving — and her actions certainly prove it. Even before her teens, Supraja was already volunteering in community events and donating to worthy causes. These days, she is carrying on charitable efforts by supporting the NTU Bursary Fund. 

Supraja graduated from NTU in May 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree (First Class Honours) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE). As an undergraduate, she received the prestigious Nanyang Scholarship and was enrolled in the University Scholars Programme. 

Her stellar grades also got her into the Dean’s list in her final year of study. Since last August, she has been pursuing her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) studies, also at NTU. 

In addition to impressive academic records, Supraja’s exemplary conduct and distinguished record in extra-curricular activities won her the Koh Boon Hwee Scholars Award and the Professional Engineers Board Gold Medal in 2016. But what truly sets this high-achiever apart is her generosity. While still an undergraduate, she already supported the Fund, by donating $1,500 from her scholarship allowance every semester. Now as a PhD student, she is allocating $500 from her monthly stipend to the Fund.

"I would like to think that my eye inflammation made me see the importance of giving back and sparked my vision to serve."
Supraja on the life-changing event that led her to think of the less-privileged

Why is giving back important to you?
"In 2005, I was diagnosed with Posterior Uveitis, a serious eye inflammation. Fortunately, the condition was brought under control by doctors and I had the full support of my family during my recovery.

It was a turning point in my life. It made me question if everyone else would have the same support or access to resources that I had. I’d like to think that my eye inflammation made me see the importance of giving back, and sparked my desire to serve. My parents and I started volunteering and doing community service actively. My parents believe strongly in giving back to society — for example, they have pledged to donate their organs and tissues after their passing, by opting into the Medical (Therapy, Education and Research) Act."

Why did you choose to support the NTU bursary fund?
"I want to help underprivileged students and hope that monetary constraints will not stop them from pursuing their education at NTU. Also, I want to give back to the school. Apart from financial support, NTU has given me the experience of a lifetime. The University Scholars Programme exposed me to a vast spectrum of subjects such as philosophy, astronomy and business. It fuelled my curiosity for learning and moulded me into a holistic thinker who can approach issues from different perspectives. NTU continues to give me many opportunities. I have a very supportive supervisor and get to benefit from the NTU-Delta Corporate laboratory for Cyber-Physical systems that was launched in June 2016. This unique research ecosystem has further enabled me to learn alongside scientists from the Centre for Research and Development in Learning."

What are some other ways you have given back to society?
"Apart from donating to the NTU Bursary Fund, I used my first PhD stipend to replace the crockery in Bright Hill Evergreen Home, a non-profit nursing home. I also enjoy community service. In my undergraduate days, I led a team and organised a learning journey project for needy children, as a member of the NTU EEE Leadership Enrichment and Development Programme Club. Out of school, I am an active volunteer and together with my parents, regularly organise events for the less- privileged. One such outing was to bring wheelchair-bound elderly from Bright Hill Evergreen Home for their first ride on the Punggol Light Rail Transit. I also try to spread the spirit of volunteerism by getting my friends to join me for such events. As an Indian Classical dancer, I have organised and performed for a charity dance show."

What would you say to fellow NTU alumni to encourage them to give?
"I urge everyone to think of those in need, and try to give back to our society.
Making a gift to NTU is a form of gratitude because most of us would have benefited from our alma mater in one way or another. I would also like to share a quote from Sir Winston Churchill that has greatly influenced how I live my life — “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Giving back has made me a happier and more contented person. It is satisfying when I see smiles on the faces of the beneficiaries."


Credit Continuum ​magazine 

Published on: 19-April-2018 ​​

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