ADMISSIONS BLOG

Admissions Blog

chan wee lee

Having fun while learning

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I went up to Oxford in 2004 to read Biochemistry. While I was a student at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, I had several incredible tutors who were leaders in the fields of biophysics and structural biology. In my four years there, I was greatly influenced by their work and developed a strong interest in understanding the structures and functions of biological molecules. Upon graduation, I was keen to further my training in this field, and one of my tutors recommended me to a friend of hers, Professor Randy Read, at the Department of Haematology in Cambridge. It was in Professor Read’s laboratory that I pursued a PhD, where I learned to use X-ray crystallography to elucidate protein structures to angstrom resolution.

Duke-NUS Student at Everest Base Camp

One of my fondest memories - trekking to the Everest Base Camp

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

Prior to entering Duke-NUS, I studied in NUS. There, I majored in Chemistry and minored in Life Science and Forensic Science. These subjects allowed me to be exposed to a wide variety of medical-related topics, from Biochemistry to Forensic Medicine. That got me interested in Medicine. In my second year during my undergraduate studies, I enrolled in the Pre-Medical Track, a programme that is designed to expose students to the translation of scientific discoveries at the bench to changes in the healthcare system at the bedside. I went through a seminar-styled module, modelled after the TeamLEAD learning method that Duke-NUS adopts. It was through this programme that I had opportunities to volunteer at local health screening events with Duke-NUS medical students, interact with various Duke-NUS faculty members, shadow a medical oncologist in the National Cancer Centre, and even go on a Student’s Exchange Programme in Duke University in Durham, North Carolina! Eventually, these opportunities strengthened my interest in Medicine and I decided to apply to Duke-NUS during the end of undergraduate third year. I have never wavered in my decision since.

At Duke-NUS, we are not only medical students but also part of the Duke-NUS family. In July, as we transitioned from our embryonic year in medical school to become seniors for the incoming class, we had the great privilege of organizing the welcoming party for the year 1s.

An effective orientation should not only be filled with lots of fun and laughter, but more importantly, help the year 1s warm up to the Duke-NUS family and get comfortable working with their peers. Personally, I benefitted a lot from my orientation and wanted the incoming year 1s to experience the same – if not better.

Introducing…

Cindy Zhu (Year 2 MD student)

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I was born in Nanjing, China, and moved to Canada with my family at age 7 to the beautiful West Coast city of Vancouver. I did my undergraduate studies at McGill University, where I majored in Physiology and minored in Social Studies of Medicine. During my third and fourth years, I worked as research assistant in Dr. Jon Sakata's neurobiology lab, whose research focuses on the neural basis of vocal communication using the songbird model, a topic that I found quite fascinating. I moved to Singapore in the same summer that I graduated from McGill to join the Class of 2018 at Duke-NUS.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

Since I was young, I enjoyed playing the piano as I found it a really enjoyable way to express myself. After moving away from home and no longer having regular access to a piano, I started jogging and doing yoga, which are my go-to stress reliever activities now in medical school. I also enjoy exploring Singapore (even if it's from of studying at different Starbucks cafes around Singapore with my roommates during the busy periods) as much as time allows.

For a few months since this March, there has been a new activity added to my usual Saturday morning routine. Earlier this year, I signed up to start taking classes to learn Hokkien, a dialect spoken by many overseas Chinese throughout Southeast Asia, including Singapore. At the time, I was not exactly sure how much I would be learning, especially when we would only have ten sessions. But, I decided to take the opportunity to learn a dialect I was completely unfamiliar with before.

Teacher Spotlight: Introducing Ms Ng Geok

Before diving into this brief learning experience, I want to introduce you to our teacher, Ms Ng Geok. Although retired for ten years, Ms Ng used to work for Mediacorp’s news and current affairs for 39 years as an assistant producer, reporting the news in Hokkien through TV and radio. Even after retiring, she continued to help with their live show for 2 hours every day, up to today.

After attending a seminar hosted by a linguistics professor from Xiamen University and starting a class on Hokkien pronunciation here in Singapore, she was asked to teach Hokkien to the general public after the professor returned to China. It was not until 2009 when she was approached and asked to teach Hokkien to students at Duke-NUS.

Every Saturday Morning

Introducing…

Gwen Hwarng (Year 1 MD student)

gwen

Gwen (standing, right behind) and her team enjoying a feast at Gluttons’ Bay: celebrating one teammate’s birthday and showing another (international) teammate the sights and sounds of the Singapore River.

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I did my undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Tar Heels! And go Blue Devils of course). I majored in Public Health and Nutrition.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

I love to dance. In my younger, fitter, free-er days, I used to do Malay and Chinese dance. The feeling of moving in synchrony with a whole troupe of dancers is pretty amazing. These days, my main source of movement is limited (sadly) to walking to and from the MRT station.

featuring members of Team 1: Muhammad Zulhakim bin Aman; Chan Huan Hao, Mervyn; He Huiling; Koh Shu Qing and Ong Yan Zhi, Ayden

The Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School curriculum is based largely on that of Duke University School of Medicine. However, the Duke-NUS learning philosophy includes a large element of team-based learning. Pre-clinical year students are divided into teams of six or seven. Throughout the year, in-class activities include TeamLEADs and tutorials, during which clinical cases are used as teaching material, and students work through the cases in their teams to answer questions set by the faculty.

team1

When I arrived at Duke-NUS last July, I found myself assigned to Team 1. None of us knew one another initially, and after the whirlwind three weeks that was Foundation Course, we were declared ready to work together as a team by the trainers from Duke Corporate Education.

What does it mean to have a calling? When I was six years old, I dreamt about taking to the skies as a pilot after putting together a plane model. Four years later, becoming a scientist seemed like a great idea although I never really understood what a scientist did.

At 16, I was certain I belonged in the film industry after trying my hand at producing a short film. That was it - I shall produce a blockbuster! I never thought of being a doctor.

Then at 18 years old, I took a leap of faith and applied to read Pharmacy in university. I realised that I enjoy the science behind the production of medicine. So instead of producing a blockbuster film, naybe I can play a part in producing the next blockbuster drug.

L-R: Zulhakim at 6, and at 18 years old (amy training started early)

Zulhakim (2nd from right in both photos) with his friends from the theatre

First of all, allow me to give some background about myself: I am a first year medical student at Duke-NUS with a Bachelor in Business Management from Singapore Management University (SMU). After being accepted into Duke-NUS, people have approached me throughout the past few months asking the same question, “Why the sudden change from business to medicine?” To be honest, answering the question with a brief, two minute summary usually doesn’t suffice to shed enough light onto my decision making process, and the conversation usually ends up revolving around salary, time foregone, and skillsets unutilised.

graduation rayson

Graduating from Singapore Management University (SMU) in 2014 with a Bachelor of Business Management