Who is NTU-NIE Alumni Association’s first President, and what were his motivations for accepting the role? Mr Bernard Tung, an alumnus of the National Institute of Education (Class of 2017 and 2019), reveals the answers.
It seemed incongruous at first, when Bernard Tung informed NIEWS that he was not active in any student club while at the National Institute of Education. The 46 year-old, who holds a branch head appointment at the Ministry of Defence, qualifies his response: “That’s because I was a part-time student while pursuing my MA (Educational Management) and MA (Instructional Design and Technology).
Incongruous too, would be the calm demeanour that belies his irrepressible energy. We soon discovered that Bernard was a prefect and a National Police Cadet Corps station inspector during secondary school. He also survived the notoriously demanding SAF Officer Cadet Course, which he credits for building his resilience and preparing him well for leadership roles. “The takeaways from these experiences have kept me going all these years—especially during the recent Circuit Breaker, as I had to be isolated in camp and office as part of an essential workforce,” he added.
Having a hectic career on hand, Bernard had not foreseen himself assuming the role of President of the new NTU-NIE Alumni Association (AA). “To some extent, I was surprised to be nominated because there were other suitable candidates in my mind,” he had replied. However, drawing inspiration from his former MA(IDT) lecturer Associate Professor Cheung Wing Sum, Bernard decided to rise to the challenge.
“I benefitted much as a student under Associate Professor Cheung. He used to invite ex-students to share industry knowledge and insights during his classes. These sessions were a huge boost to our learning journey as they allowed us to network and engage with experienced professionals. You can’t find lessons like these from textbooks or the Internet.”
He continued, “In fact, Associate Professor Cheung and a group of us had been keen to set up an MA(IDT) AA initially. Later on, we realised that Associate Professor Lim Kam Ming was also trying to set up an AA with other interested members from the PhD and Teaching Scholars programmes. In the end, we all came together to form the NTU-NIE AA and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Having agreed to hold office, Bernard feels it is time to pay it forward by playing a part in student learning journeys pre- and post-graduation. “Although I’ve not led student clubs before, I’m sure my experience in leading and organising big and small events through my 26+ years with the Republic of Singapore Air Force would be valuable.”
Revealing his immediate priorities, Bernard says: “First, we intend to reach out and inform all graduates of the National Institute of Education about the NTU-NIE AA and its purposes. We also intend to organise talks or webinars, depending on the prevailing COVID-19 situation, and invite speakers to share on topics that are useful to the lifelong learning needs of of our graduates. We’ll also be working with the faculty members to further support the learning journey of current students.
“To grow the Association, I’m looking at three important areas. Building long-term relationships would be the first objective, as our fundamental aim is to support alumni at different stages of learning and work. The next focus area would be to establish sub-committees to ensure greater resources and collaboration opportunities for the alumni activities. Last but not least, it would be important to identify the key interest areas of our alumni members, so that we can organise activities relevant to their needs,” he added.
Wasting no time to promote his new cause, Bernard appeals to all alumni readers of NIEWS to look out for NTU-NIE AA activities, as well as contribute suggestions on topics or activities that they would like to see. “Please drop us an email and stay in touch with your alma mater at email@example.com. We’d really like to hear from you!” he said.