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​LKCMedicine graduates receive their MBBS degrees from NTU and Imperial

Published on: 24-Jul-2018

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The national anthem Majulah Singapura rang in a much-awaited moment. It was a poignant event for the approximately 1,000 members of the audience who celebrated several firsts today at NTU Singapore’s first convocation ceremony of 2018. The celebrations were presided over by none other than the President of the Republic of Singapore, Madam Halimah Yacob.

This was Madam Halimah’s first convocation as NTU Chancellor. It was also a first for newly-appointed NTU President Professor Subra Suresh. And a first for LKCMedicine, a joint medical school by NTU and Imperial College London officially signed into existence on 29 October 2010. 

Today came some 170 days after LKCMedicine’s Class of 2018 passed their final exams, and more than 80 days after they started work as junior doctors in hospitals across Singapore. With their graduation, the young doctors came full circle, completing their journey as medical students exactly where they had started it five years earlier at the inaugural White Coat Ceremony in August 2013. This morning, they received their MBBS degrees, jointly awarded by NTU and Imperial, in the Nanyang Auditorium on NTU’s main campus.

Opening his first convocation ceremony, Prof Suresh said in his address, “This convocation is special to me personally because it is my first as President of NTU. Indeed, it is my privilege to be here to celebrate the achievements of as many as 9,755 graduands who will be receiving their degrees during 20 convocation ceremonies over the next seven days.”

He went on to acknowledge the many individuals who were receiving their honorary and academic degrees, including LKCMedicine’s inaugural cohort of 52 medical doctors. “Singapore and the world will benefit from them as they take on the important responsibility of caring for patients, and advancing the frontiers of medical and clinical practice in Singapore and beyond,” said Prof Suresh, who is also Distinguished University Professor.

Honorary degrees for champions of education 

The 2018 convocation opened with the award of honorary degrees to three individuals for their contributions to education in Singapore. Among the recipients were former President of the Republic of Singapore Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam and Lee Foundation Chairman Dr Lee Seng Tee, both of whom received Honorary Degrees of Doctor of Letters. In 2011, the Lee Foundation made a landmark $150 million gift to NTU to support the new medical school, which was named Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in honour of the donation. Dr Lee was presented with his honorary degree during a private ceremony ahead of the convocation.

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After accepting his honour, Dr Tan addressed the new graduates saying, “NTU has given you not only knowledge but also the skills to thrive in a changing world and I hope a sense of responsibility to society. I urge all of you to approach the future with an open mind, a commitment to keep learning and a spirit of collaboration,” said Dr Tan, who said he is proud to be associated with the staff, students and alumni of this dynamic university.

NTU also conferred on Mr Peter Ho Hak Ean an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science. He had served 34 outstanding years in public service, of which 15 years were spent as Permanent Secretary in several ministries. 

The next honour to be bestowed this morning was the conferment of President Emeritus on Prof Bertil Andersson, who served NTU for more than 10 years, first as Provost then President of NTU from 2011 to 2017. Acting as Public Orator, Prof Suresh took to the podium to read the citation, in which he acknowledged Prof Andersson’s instrumental role in the setting up of LKCMedicine. After Prof Suresh’s citation, Madam Halimah conferred the honour to Prof Andersson.

In his acceptance speech, Prof Andersson said that if he had to pick one highlight from his time at NTU, it would be the setting up of LKCMedicine together with Imperial. Prof Andersson, who described himself as the happiest president emeritus in the world this morning, said, “I’m, therefore, very happy that I’m receiving the president emeritus honour here today on the same very day that the first cohort of LKCMedicine students graduate and become medical doctors.”

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wo LKCMedicine students among top medal winners

During the ceremony, the two most prestigious awards offered by the university – the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal and the Koh Boon Hwee Scholars Award – were also presented. These awards, as well as Gold Medals including the Toh Kian Chui and Anthony SC Teo – Gordon Johnson Gold Medals, recognise students with outstanding academic and extra-curricular achievements. 

Graduating top of her class, LKCMedicine’s Dr Ang Jia Wei was one of 37 Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal winners. She was also among the 10 Koh Boon Hwee Scholars Award recipients, along with her colleague Dr Moses Ko.

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The Koh Boon Hwee Scholars Award recognises teaching excellence and the impact great teachers have on their students, and each recipient was followed by a teacher from their former institution and an NTU faculty member who have inspired the graduate and contributed significantly to their education.

Dr Ang’s mentors were her civics tutor and core Math & Science Talent Programme tutor Mr Sam Lee from Hwa Chong Institution and Assistant Dean for Year 5 Associate Professor Tham Kum Ying, while Dr Ko honoured his former literature teacher Mr Brian Connor from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and LKCMedicine William Osler House Senior House Tutor Associate Professor Mary Wong. 

“Through Mr Connor’s lessons, I was exposed to the complexity of language and communication. I was better able to approach whatever I read, heard or saw with greater conscientiousness and renewed curiosity,” said Dr Ko.

LKCMedicine graduates receive their MBBS degrees

After the medal presentation, it was time for the conferment of the first Bachelor Degrees during this convocation, which saw inaugural cohorts from two programmes graduate. 

In front of their parents, well-wishers and the many proud faculty and staff from LKCMedicine, NTU and Imperial, the LKCMedicine graduates went on stage to receive their joint degrees. They were presented to the NTU Chancellor by LKCMedicine Dean Professor James Best and Imperial Faculty of Medicine Dean Professor Jonathan Weber. 

First up to receive their degrees were the cohort's Gold Medal winners. After Dr Ang, who had already received her Gold Medal, it was Dr Ko's turn to receive his second honour. Having excelled in his final year exams, Dr Ko received the Toh Kian Chui Gold Medal, while Dr Leon Tan, who distinguished himself during the Year 3 to 5 clinical examinations, received the Anthony SC Teo – Gordon Johnson Gold Medal.

It was the Valedictorian’s honour to bring the first ceremony to a close. This honour fell to Dr Ang, who reflected on her and her batchmates’ five years at medical school. “Together we were the pioneer batch, not just in name but in spirit. It was with each other that we broke new ground,” said Dr Ang.

“Together we faced uncertainty with confidence and a can-do spirit. More importantly, we did not only survive, we thrived,” she added.

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After her address, the academic procession, guests and the new graduates headed to The Quad to lay the Class of 2018 commemorative plaque. And then it was time for the happy and hungry graduates to let down their hair and celebrate their achievement with their families and friends.

Speaking after the ceremony, Prof Best said, “I am very excited about the graduation of our first class because it has been many years in the planning and today is the day that it has all come together.” 

“Our doctors have been educated to work as good team members, to support each other. They’ve also been educated to always put the patient first and I am sure that that will be the legacy of the medical school,” he added. 

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Sending her well-wishes, Imperial President Professor Alice Gast, who was unable to attend the ceremony, reflected that while the many celebrations are rightly focused on the graduates’ enormous personal achievements, “we should also reflect on the vision of NTU, and of Singapore as a whole, in creating one of the world’s finest medical schools in less than a decade.” 

“LKCMedicine’s inaugural graduates’ humanity, courage and intellectual excellence are the greatest testament to Singapore’s vision. As these first graduates begin their careers, Singapore and the wider world will benefit for generations to come,” she added.

Adding his congratulations, Prof Weber said, “We are immensely proud of Imperial’s first international foray and the innovative teaching methods which have been developed there.”

Click here to view more photos and catch highlights from the convocation ceremony here.

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