General News

Distinguished Alumni Visits Hwa Chong

14 Oct 2020

Associate Professor Kenneth Mak

Written by: Soh Yong Xiang (20A15)

From left to right: Mr Chan Kwok Leong (Deputy Principal/Studies), Hoo Hoi Tzer (President, Student Council), Associate Professor Kenneth Mak (Director of Medical Services, Ministry of Health), Neo Zhenyi, Dilys (Vice-President / Student Council), Mr Pang Choon How (Principal/ Hwa Chong Institution)

For Graduation Day 2020, Hwa Chong was honoured to host Associate Professor Kenneth Mak as its Guest-of-Honour.

A distinguished Hwa Chong alumnus, A/P Mak has become a familiar face to Singaporeans as a leading policy-maker in the fight against Covid-19, in his role as the Director of Medical Services at the Ministry of Health.

Speaking to Hoo Hoi Tzer (President / Student Council) and Neo Zhenyi, Dilys (Vice-President / Student Council), A/P Mak shared insights gained from suppressing the viral outbreak, lessons learnt from his time in Hwa Chong, and advice for the graduating batch, who had the opportunity to watch his taped interview on this special day.

A/P Mak also fondly recalled attending signature events such as Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations, and playing sports with his classmates - experiences which formed a key part of his Hwa Chong memories, and the memories of many batches since.

Beyond these shared experiences, equally unchanging are the valuable life lessons transmitted through the years to generations of Hwa Chongians. In particular, A/P Mak emphasized the  need to be ready to go against convention, which is only magnified by the challenge that Covid-19 has posed to our expectations. 

To the graduating cohort, A/P Mak points out that this flexibility in letting go of old paradigms manifests on a practical level in the ability to adapt to and pursue different routes, now that the pandemic has disrupted many traditional job and education opportunities.

“Be more willing to explore the path less-trodden,” he summarised, “Going off the beaten path is difficult, but it can make your life a lot richer.”

“One of the things that struck me when speaking to A/P Mak was when he mentioned that we often tend to think about our decisions in retrospect,” Dilys says, referencing A/P Mak’s acknowledgement of the need to respond to scientific developments regarding Covid-19, even if that means walking back previous policies, “I learnt that, while we can’t expect to be certain about the future, we can focus on doing what’s best with whatever we have at that point in time, and that’s what matters.”

Likewise, it is hoped that the graduating batch can draw on its unique experiences in Hwa Chong to forge a path forward, even through tough and uncertain times.

Nonetheless, though things might be difficult, A/P Mak ultimately reminded students of the need to remain positive. At the end of the day, his advice too is unchanging - he offered the same advice to this batch as he would to his own.

“Enjoy the interactions and relationships you have with friends and teachers. Take the time to go beyond the books and cherish what you have with your CCAs,” he concluded, “Take life a little bit less seriously.”

Hwa Chong is privileged to hear from A/P Mak, and wishes the Class of 2020 all the best in their future endeavours!

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