02 Feb 2019

Speech by Top Student, Mr Nantha Kumar S/O Nagalingam at the MDISSpeeches

Good morning,

Guest-of-Honour, Mr Darren Brunton, Chairman, Institution of Occupational Safety & Health;

Dr Eric Kuan, President of the Management Development Institute of Singapore;

Dr R. Theyvendran, Secretary-General of the Management Development Institute of Singapore;

Dr Duncan Sharp, Dean, School of Clinical & Applied Sciences, Leeds Beckett University;

Mr Tim Briggs, Course Director, School of Clinical & Applied Sciences, Leeds Beckett University;


Distinguished guests;

Fellow graduates and parents;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

My name is Nantha Kumar S/O Nagalingam and I am honoured to be standing here today to deliver an address on behalf of the graduating class of 2019.

Just like you, my fellow graduates, I too thought that I was finally graduating. But no, not quite yet. I must deliver one final assignment, the Valedictorian speech.

Having been assigned this mammoth task, I went on to do what we have been doing for countless hours during our academic journey at MDIS and Leeds Beckett University.


But honestly, this speech is one that could only be drawn from my own experiences and not from published papers or research studies. It has to be a personal recollection of the past 18 months of the learning journey that we had shared together.

Most of us are not graduates who will be going into the workforce for the first time. In fact, almost all of us made the choice to pursue a degree so that we can advance our careers and professional goals. And quite possibly, an increment in our pay checks as well! For some of us, the degree may even present a chance for us to re-evaluate our career choices. The decision to enrol in this programme was probably a very well thought of and vastly informed one for all of us.

Though being experienced professionals, the thought of going back to school must have been daunting for many of us. I remember the very first orientation we had. Dr Ng Wei Ling was briefing us and phrases such as “You are on your own!”, “Turnitin 10% or less”, “Assignments with word counts by the thousands” kept ringing in my ears as a reminder of what was to come. At the end of the orientation, many of us left the lecture theatre filled with self-doubt.

But as the lessons began, we soon overcame the lack of self-confidence with great zest and motivation.

Wait a minute… who am I kidding?

The first module was UTRP – Understanding the Research Process. Majority of us sunk deeper as we had not done such extensive research nor writing ever in our lives! However, as the lessons went on, with the valuable guidance from our dedicated lecturers and fuelled by our hard work and determination, we completed our assignments, one by one. But more importantly, all the self-doubt and lack of confidence faded away. All the “Will we be able to do this?” discussions amongst ourselves turned into “How can we do this?”

We eventually got into our stride which has led us to this momentous day. We are graduating!

After attaining this degree, you would agree we are not the same safety personnel as we were 1½ years ago. We have learnt extensively from our lecturers who have selflessly spent their time, imparting their knowledge to us. We now look at work issues more profoundly. We look deeper to sieve out underlying factors. We are able to substantiate our proposals better. In short, we have become better professionals.

The new journey ahead of us might not be perfect all the way. There might be unintended consequences, and even failures. But we must never lose the desire and drive to learn and relearn. That very same desire that compelled us to further our studies in the first place.

In conclusion, let us give thanks. As we celebrate this day, let’s look back and be thankful for the journey. A journey which we have completed successfully with the support of our families, friends, colleagues and of course, our wonderful lecturers. A very big Thank You to all of them.

My fellow graduates; don’t forget to thank yourself!

Because you did not give up! You worked hard, you sacrificed and today, you are graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) Safety, Health and Environmental Management.

Let’s just not stop here. Let’s use this as a springboard to aspire.
But let’s not aspire - just to make a living. Let’s aspire - to make a DIFFERENCE.

Congratulations to the Class of 2019!

Thank you.