Student Interview: Heng Peng Hock
Q. Please introduce yourself (student year, major, your background, etc.)
A. My name is Heng Peng Hock, but many of my peers know me simply as Frederic. I graduate from UIC in August 2018 (class of 14.5) with a major in Political Science and International Relations.
Q. What made you attend UIC?
A. It is an oft-repeated cliché that Singaporeans tend to stick to the conventional path in education. Many default to the tried-and-tested options, selecting one of the local universities or securing a spot in one of those prestigious universities in the United Kingdom, United States of America, or Australia. Although sticking to the traditional option is not inherently a bad thing, it definitely is a mistake to conflate the ‘safe option’ with being the ‘best option’.
The desire to go beyond familiar ground and to step outside my comfort zone triggered my decision to look for an undergraduate academic experience in a vibrant, multicultural community. With English being the language of instruction, UIC positioned itself as a college which offered an intimate liberal arts undergraduate experience. I was also impressed by the quality of the college faculty as many of them were renowned scholars that have distinguished themselves in their fields of research.
Q. What was your most rewarding experience in UIC?
A. Being academically challenged every day is probably the most rewarding experience of college. I made it a point to select demanding classes in disciplines that were far outside my primary academic interest, which was made possible through the numerous classes offered every semester. Although I was in Underwood Division, I also found it deeply enriching to know more about the work, events, and programmes that my peers in other divisions were engaged in. Through my participation in some of the Design Factory Korea and the Yonsei Center for Social Innovation events and programmes, I managed to gain information and experiences that added value to my academic progression in college.
I also spent a semester in student organisations such as the Underwood Global Community and the Global Career Society, and committed all eight semesters of my time as an undergraduate to the UIC Student Ambassadors ㅡ a group under the UIC Office which seeks to promote the college to prospective students abroad.
Q. How was your experience as Chair of the UIC Student Ambassadors?
A. The UIC Student Ambassadors is a student entity like no other. As a nominal extension of the institute, this student-run body constitutes a core pillar of the college’s global marketing and outreach strategy, and has established and maintained relationships with the college’s targeted audience abroad. Without strict parameters, the UIC Student Ambassadors give members the latitude to work and create their own projects, giving them the chance to contribute to public relations work. This makes them an invaluable asset to the branding and image of the college.
In my time as Chair of the UIC Student Ambassadors, I sought to create a digital media strategy with its social media portfolio that enriches the college’s social media marketing mix and content output. This has generated outcomes that developed positive brand awareness of the college in its targeted publics abroad. With a team of like-minded individuals in the 2017 Board of the UIC Student Ambassadors, a bold restructuring move was made to improve the performance, enhance productivity, and develop a more agile, responsive organisation that is able to develop better outcomes in its public relations activities. This transition process would not have been possible without a group of committed peers, for whom I have the highest respect and admiration.
Q. Please give us some of your advice and/or recommendations regarding UIC student life.
A. My advice to underclassmen on selecting classes is this: Take the courses not because you perceive them to be less challenging but because you find the course curriculum to be engaging, stimulating, and thought-provoking. As I mentioned earlier, I had the desire to go beyond familiar ground to explore beyond the horizon. But what I have also learnt is that the horizon is not static; it shifts further away as the observer moves closer to it. It is a never-ending quest of learning. And when I look back at all the information that I would not have otherwise learnt about, I have no regrets.
Like many of my seniors who came before me, I strongly believe that taking initiative makes one a more responsible individual. Grasp all opportunities that come your way, be it internships or leadership positions in student organisations. Never cease the chance to better yourself, and be sure to channel your work into generating productive outputs that would add value to your academic journey and to your future career.