Speaker: Clement Chio
Many people would vouch that their university years would have been their best times ever. After all, it is a time whereby students get a whole lot of important experiences in life: they get knowledge, get a degree, get life skills, get laid.
For me, my best experiences in university were specifically within the enclosures of the Hall of Residence I used to stay in – Sheares Hall.
During my second year, I was voted by the residents of my Block, Block D, as the Head of the Block, or well, as they fondly like to call, the Block Head.
The role of the Block Head is simple – to organise activities to promote social interaction between residents in the block, within the Hall, and sometimes, with neighbouring Halls as well.
Contrary to popular belief, all activities are organised outside the bedroom.
One of the most memorable events as Block Head was when I invited the entire Block D from the neighbouring hall over to celebrate Mid Autumn Festival together.
Although we invite them every other year, well, I must say that their reception towards our invitation hasn’t always been that enthusiastic.
Until the year that I organised it.
On the day of the event itself, I was surprised to find a crazily impressive turnout from our neighbouring counterparts. It was like almost more than half their block came over!
Naturally, I was elated at the initial success of the event.
Though I somehow noticed, more of the guys compared to their girls came over.
Amongst the crowd, I spotted a friend and I chatted with him.
“Hey, I didn’t know you were from Kent Ridge?” I asked.
“Yea, me neither! How coincidental to see you here.” He replied
“Well, yea. You know what, thanks for coming down. I’m the Block Head.”
That was when, I noticed his excited face change to disappointment, to bewilderment, then to enlightenment, before he threw this question at me.
“So Clement, do you want to know what so many of us came over to your Block today?”
“That’s actually what I wanted to ask you.”
“Well, for weeks leading to today, there has been a rumour going around our Block:
that the Block Head of Sheares Hall Block D, was Chio.”
Well that certainly wasn’t the first time my name had caused some confusion amongst those who don’t know me.
Fortunately the disappointment of most our neighbours didn’t last long.
Cos half of them sneaked back after finding out who I was.
The other half, realised in time that we had free Swensons ice-cream mooncakes.
And it was an enjoyable and memorable event!
Well that was one of the many events that I got to organise.
Because the rooms in each Hall of Residence was so limited, every resident had to be actively participating in activities in order to earn his stay the next year.
Over my years staying in the hall I got to organise events as small as birthday parties to large scales events which even involved the then President of Singapore S.R. Nathan, who happened to be a distinguished alumni of my hall.
Of course, while these events don’t seem like they add any skill sets useful to the real world working environment, I’d like to add that in my final year I was the Vice-President of a Tertiary-wide competition where we had to build a float out of recycled materials, sometimes known as absolute rubbish.
And even absolute rubbish costed money.
As part of the sub-committee, we worked hard and managed to canvass thousands of dollars from various corporations around the island. The largest donation came from Old Chang Kee, which generously donated $3,000 to our cause.
When we sealed the deal, it was a great win for us:
We actually sold garbage for $3,000.
Now you know why I ended up in sales.
My parents used to lament that I had wasted my 4 years in university.
After all, I spent all my time in there pursuing an engineering degree only to become an investment sales consultant.
But I don’t think my engineering degree has been wasted after all.
With an engineering degree now I go around asking people “How much do you want to put into this investment?”
If I had gotten an Arts degree instead, I’d be asking people “How many packets of Chilli sauce do you want with your Big Mac meal?”
The truth is, my university days shaped me up for the career which I chose today.
In Engineering, I learned how to be analytical, organised and critical.
I also learnt how to pretend I understand complicated concepts when I really don’t.
The rest of my soft skills, I learnt it through the many opportunities I had taking part and organizing activities as part of my Hall community.
I challenged my creative limits because as a student anything is possible.
I’ve learnt how to manage and collaborate with my peers working together on massive projects.
I’ve understood the tricky art of conflict resolution because strong-headed university students will always have differing ideas.
I honed and sharpened my negotiation skills because the best outcome for any, any situation is a always, always a win-win.
That, as we know, is with the exception of the American government.
In conclusion, my University experience would have been vastly different if I hadn’t made the decision to stay in Hall.
Because certainly my grades would have been far better.
But we all know grades hardly matter once we all start working.
It’s the other intangible skills that I am thankful for acquiring while in Hall.
So if you have sons or daughters that are going to University next time,
make sure they stay on campus.
They’d acquire soft skills which they’d probably never get staring at lecturers and textbooks during classes.
Because University is more than getting a degree, getting knowledge and getting laid.
It’s also about getting life skills, getting great friends, and who knows, you may get a life partner.