FASS Class of 2017

Interview with Elvis Tan, Valedictorian


2017 marked the graduation of the Faculty's inaugural batch of students enrolled in the Concurrent Degree Programme (CDP) in Psychology. A five year programme, the CDP allows students to graduate with two degrees, B.Soc.Sci (Hons) M.Soc.Sci, in just five years, instead of the usual six should the degrees be pursued separately. Below, we chat with Mr Elvis Tan, one of the graduates of the programme and the Psychology Department's Valedictorian of the Class of 2017. An all-rounded student, Elvis is also a troupe member with NUS Lion Dance and an officer with the NUS National Police Cadet Corps. Enjoy the interview!


1. Why did you decide to major in Psychology, and why FASS?

I have always been curious about the varied ways in which people think and behave. Furthermore, Psychology is a subject that is close to my heart, since we are surrounded with people every day. I did not actually choose FASS specifically—it happened to be the home faculty of Psychology! However, over time, I have come to appreciate the FASS curriculum—it encourages us to embrace diversity, and trains us to be thorough, critical, and versatile scholars.


2. Did the subject matter of Psychology align with your expectations?

Yes, except for the minor fact that I still cannot read people’s minds! :P The Psychology curriculum has equipped me with the relevant theories and lens through which I can better make sense of people’s thoughts and behaviors. An unexpected takeaway from the Psychology curriculum was its strong emphasis on statistics and evidence-based practice, which has honed me to be more deliberate and critical about collecting data and interpreting them.


3. Which branch of Psychology did you enjoy studying the most?

Evolutionary Psychology (EP). I find it especially interesting and thought-provoking.

I enjoy pondering about, and marvelling at, how humans could have evolved into who we are today. Besides, it was an eye-opener to learn about how EP could be conceived as an overarching framework that can integrate the different aspects of Psychology!


4. What topic(s) did your thesis/dissertation investigate?

My research lies at the intriguing intersection of cognitive and educational psychology. Specifically, we investigated how students’ attentional focus might influence their academic risk taking. A part of our work has been published, so I wish to humbly invite interested readers to look it up!

Reference: Tan, E. W. S., Lim, S. W. H., & Manalo, E. (available online). Global-local processing impacts academic risk taking. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.


5. How has the Concurrent Degree Programme (CDP) benefitted you?

Most prominently, the CDP allowed me to commence my Masters curriculum earlier, and hence to save one year’s worth of time. Of course, I was not short-changed in any way and experienced the full rigor of a Masters curriculum. In fact, because of the accelerated nature of the programme, I had to stretch myself more, and have thus grown even more from the process. I am grateful to my supervisor—Associate Professor Stephen Lim—as well as the faculty administrators for their patience and consistent support amidst all the uncertainties associated with being the inaugural CDP cohort.


6. Now that you have graduated, what lies ahead for you?

I am a grateful recipient of an undergraduate scholarship from the Singapore Prisons Service, and am looking forward to my stint as a Prisons Officer! I’m excited to apply what I have learnt in the working world!


7. Any parting words for your juniors at FASS?

Take ownership of your own education—act on opportunities to grow yourself (there are plenty!), enjoy the process of learning, and make the best of your time as an undergraduate! Someday, you will look back fondly at these lessons and memories, and appreciate how much you have grown over the years! :)

Thank you Elvis. We wish you all the best in journey ahead.

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Dean's Office, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences National University of Singapore

  • Add: The Shaw Foundation Building, Block AS7, Level 5
  • 5 Arts Link, Singapore 117570
  • Tel: +65 6516 6133
  • Email: fashelp@nus.edu.sg
  • Fax: +65 6777 0751
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