Altruistic and passionate - these two words sum up Desiree Soh, an SIM-University at Buffalo, SUNY alumna. Desiree endeavours to create space for conversations and changes for the communities she serves. She champions women's causes as a senior executive at the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE).
News & Events News & Events News & Events Highlights Altruistic and passionate - these two words sum up Desiree Soh, an SIM-University at Buffalo, SUNY alumna. Desiree endeavours to create space for conversations and changes for the communities she serves. She champions women's causes as a senior executive at the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE). Could you share with us the most memorable experience in SIM GE? Together with a friend, we organised SIM+, an event where we invited like-minded students, alumni and faculty to discuss the value of the concept of quietness and its possible applications in daily life. The idea came about when we realised that we were having rich conversations surrounding it but noticed there wasn’t really a space or community where we could discuss it in school. We were also inspired by the popularity of the book titled ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain which explores the concept in depth. How did you benefit from studying the Sociology programme at SIM-University at Buffalo, SUNY? I had the space to learn and explore my interests and there was never real pressure to do well academically. I enjoyed how the summer semester presented a variety of new and interesting modules, different from those that were offered in the fall and spring. Outside of my Sociology major, I enrolled in modules that piqued my interest such as Philosophy of Religion, Art History 101, Linguistics 101, Entrepreneurship and World Civilisation. The course load was manageable too with different modes of assessment such as research projects, quizzes, presentations and multiple choice final papers. This meant that I had the flexibility to work part-time and pursue other projects outside of school. As I went to Junior College and had some credit exemptions, I was able to complete my Bachelor’s degree in less than three years, earlier than my local university peers. How did these experiences prepare you for your career? Due to my interest and curiosity in many areas, I found myself open to different job options and was able to adapt and find solutions to challenges that I faced in my everyday work. Being able to look at the world through sociological factors such as gender, race, income, sexuality and how they intersect one another was an important starting point for my work as well. The social research methods that we were trained in was also relevant in my first job as a research assistant. What led you to your current role today? During my Sociology classes, I found myself being drawn to gender-focused issues and knew that I wanted to work at AWARE upon graduation. My hope for Singapore is that it is fair and just for everyone. As I wanted to delve into research work first, I started out as a research assistant in a health communications project at the National University of Singapore. We were looking to understand the health needs and gaps of the community living in the ‘backyard’ of Alexandra Hospital. Our work entailed interviewing residents in the area using quota sampling. Our findings played a key role in their planning for the integrated hospital. After which, I interned at AWARE, doing community engagement work. Soon after, there was an opening for the fundraising position and I’ve been doing it for over two years now! Getting into fundraising was completely unplanned but it has been an enormously fulfilling experience. We raise funds to ensure the continuity of our critical programmes, services, research and advocacy work. Who is your hero in life and why? I love feminist essays from the likes of Audre Lorde, Bell Hooks, Roxane Gay, Adrienne Maree Brown and Teo You Yenn. Their writings remind me to more intersectional and serve as a reminder to persist in the work that we do. This is quoted from Audre Lorde’s work that drew me in and has kept me going, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are different from my own.” I am also constantly in awe of everyone at AWARE. On top of being stellar in their areas of work, they are the most brilliant, down to earth and fun-loving people. I’m incredibly lucky to be working, learning and growing alongside them! #SIM-UBGraduate #GlobalHero Click here to learn more about the programmes awarded by the University at Buffalo. Posted online, 12 Feb 2020