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Penning his way to success

14 Aug 2017

During his three and a half years at The Straits Times (ST), sports journalist Chua Siang Yee has scooped several accolades, including the Young Journalist of the Year Award in 2016. What’s next on the cards for the SIM-University at Buffalo (UB) Communication graduate? Pursuing a law degree at the University of Cambridge. He tells us why.


Why Communication at SIM-UB?
I heard about the programme from a UB alumnus while I was doing an internship at The New Paper. The fact that many of the modules are taught by visiting faculty was a big draw for me.

Beyond Textbooks and Classrooms
One module took me to Tanglin Mall, where we helped shoppers carry groceries from the supermarket to their cars while simultaneously exploring the dynamics of working in small groups.

On Becoming a Journalist
Since I cannot play professional football, writing about it felt like the next best thing. Being on top of global affairs, reading widely, clocking hours of research and of course putting in the hard work – all these have helped me survive at the country's biggest newspaper.

On Meeting Serena Williams by Chance
Once I got a text message from my editor: “Can you be at MBS in 15 minutes?” Turns out there was a last-minute one-on-one interview with Serena Williams, who was here for the 2014 WTA Finals, and the main tennis reporters were unavailable. About 25 minutes later, during which I devoured all the tennis research I could do on my iPhone, I found myself face to face with one of the best tennis players of all time in her hotel room. She was really friendly – and surprisingly soft-spoken.

Advice to Aspiring Writers
Writing is hard work. Good writing doesn't come naturally, even to the best writers. It takes years of practice to develop your own voice and to write well. My best stories are the result of countless drafts and many hours spent agonising over every word and phrase.

Of course, in journalism the deadlines mean you don't have much time to refine your pieces, but it is always worth rereading the published story and seeing where you could've done better.

Pursuing His Dreams
I would have studied law as my first undergraduate degree but my poor A-Level grades ruled that out. However, after doing well enough at both SIM-UB and ST, I felt like the time was right to seek a new challenge and pursue this long-held ambition of being a lawyer.

From my vantage point in the newsroom, I find that a pluralistic Singaporean society is increasingly outspoken about social and legal issues. I am determined to be a part of this change and hopefully help shape part of the Singapore story.

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