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Speech by Mdm Rahayu Mahzam, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Health & Ministry of Law, at Nanyang Polytechnic Graduation 2023, 5 May 2023, 9.15am, at Nanyang Polytechnic Auditorium

Ms Jessica Tan, Deputy Chairman, Nanyang Polytechnic Board of Governors


Mr Russell Chan, Principal and CEO, Nanyang Polytechnic


Parents and family members



     A very good day to all. It is my pleasure to be here today at Nanyang Polytechnic’s (NYP) Graduation Ceremony. Thank you for inviting me to share this milestone in your lives.


2.     I would like to congratulate all the graduands from the School of Health & Social Sciences who are receiving your diploma certificates today. Among us are also the Distinguished Award recipients from across NYP, who are being recognised for their exemplary performance throughout their studies. Well done, everyone!


Wearing the COVID-19 Experience as a Badge of Honour


3.     Today’s ceremony is a culmination of your hard work over the past three years. Your cohort is the first to experience full-scale home-based learning right from the start of your polytechnic journey. I know it must have been challenging to step into a new environment without much of the usual face-to-face interactions that are the hallmarks of polytechnic life.


4.     Despite this, you remained resilient and soldiered through the uncertainty. You found new ways to make friends, kept in touch with them even as time spent on campus was reduced. You picked up new ways of learning and collaborating. I know it might not feel like much now, but this experience of weathering COVID-19 together is a badge of honour.

5.     I know that amongst us, there are those who have contributed to the nation’s fight against COVID-19. I would like to thank those who set aside your school holidays to work in our public healthcare institutions, vaccination centres, and test centres; those who had volunteered to deliver meals to the less fortunate, and everyone who had contributed in their own ways.


6     As you set out towards your next chapter in life, continue to wear this badge proudly. Life will have its ups and downs, but I am confident that with this formative experience under your belt, you are that much better prepared to cope with what comes ahead, and come out stronger always.


7.     As we celebrate your achievements, let us not forget the people who have supported you through this journey, including your lecturers, family members, friends, and loved ones. Let us give them a round of applause.


Embracing Change and New Opportunities


8.     Even as we step into a post-COVID world, the world remains uncertain and volatile. Geopolitical tensions and economic contestation have disrupted business models and jobs across many industries. Many young graduates all over the world are feeling the effects of this uncertainty.


9.     For most, if not all, of you here today, take heart that you are graduating with top-notch skills relevant to the Care Economy, which is one of the fastest growing sectors globally. As recently as 2022, the World Economic Forum estimated that almost 40% of job openings in emerging professions will be in the Care Economy, which is not surprising as people are living longer in tandem with advancements in technology and healthcare.


10.     In Singapore, Healthier SG will open up many exciting opportunities in healthcare. The shift towards greater emphasis on upstream preventive care will only be possible with healthcare professionals working together in the community.  Some of these are roles that you have studied and trained for – for example, nurses and oral health therapists play an important role in educating people on the importance of maintaining good health, and in delivering upstream healthcare interventions. Social workers and social work associates ensure that no one is left behind, especially the most vulnerable among us.


11.     I encourage all graduands to continue learning and rethink how the sector can operate and deliver its services to better serve the people. 2023 is the Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners, where we recognise the integral contributions of our social service agencies, businesses, Institutes of Higher Learning, social service professionals, volunteers and other partners. Working together with these partners and supported by the Government, I am sure you will make a positive difference to the lives of families and individuals who are in need. 


12.     Regardless of the path you choose, there are many opportunities for you here in Singapore. As you embark on the next stage of your journey, I encourage you to remain curious, adapt to new situations and seize these opportunities to practise at the highest level of your respective professions.


Commendation of Award Winners and Inspiring Students


13.     Today, we celebrate you, the graduands who have inspired us, and the Distinguished Award recipients from the various schools. Allow me to share some of their stories.


14.     Mr Rajendran Rajesh will be graduating from the Nursing programme, and is the recipient of two Distinguished Awards – the Tay Eng Soon Health & Social Sciences Award for being the most outstanding graduate from the School of Health & Social Sciences, and the Ngee Ann Kongsi Award for All-Round Achievement. Rajesh was a combat medic during his NS days, and the experience led him to NYP Nursing where he found his calling. Rajesh has done very well academically, but what is even more admirable are his contributions to the NYP student community. He was President of NYP’s Peer Supporter Club, and helped to champion student mental wellness through initiatives such as Mental Health Week.


15.     Ms Sharon Kam from the Diploma in Oral Health Therapy is another Distinguished Award recipient. Sharon started her career in the healthcare sector as a Dental Surgery Assistant some years ago. Through her work, she discovered her passion was in working with children, especially in helping them overcome their fear of dental treatment. She decided to pursue diploma studies to do more for them, in a larger capacity. Today, Sharon will be graduating with a Diploma in Oral Health Therapy, and she plans to find a job that will allow her to continue working with children, and apply the new skills she has learnt. I hear from NYP that she is also planning to attend further training to gain further specialised skills and contribute at an even higher level.


16.     Mr Hua Kheng Ju, an aspiring Social Work Associate, is another example of stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Kheng Ju initially doubted his choice to embark on a career in the social services as he felt that Social Work was a lesser-known course compared to Business or Design. He spoke to his lecturers, and they shared with him various career pathways that Social Work Associates can progress into post-graduation. He spent the next three years growing in ways he never knew – going beyond pursuing academic excellence, he pushed himself to venture beyond his comfort zone and actively took on leadership roles in class. He was also part of NYP’s Community Services Club, and worked with fellow students to improve the lives of elderly residents in the community.


17.     Rajesh’s, Sharon’s and Kheng Ju’s stories are just a few of the many I have heard. I encourage every one of you to shine in your own ways, embrace lifelong learning, and commit to make a difference to those around you.  



18.     Graduating from polytechnic is a significant milestone in your education journey. In the last few years, all of you have acquired many important skills that will stand you in good stead as you embark on the next stage of your life journey. However, one can never stop learning, and I encourage all of you to see this as part of a longer lifelong learning journey over the course of your career.


19.     Be proud of what you have achieved and be excited for what is to come. There is no guaranteed formula for success but if there is, I believe seizing the opportunities, growing at your own pace, and doing something you are passionate about will be part of it. I wish you all the best.


20.     Once again, congratulations to all of you. Thank you.

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