Speech by Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Communications and Information, at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Convocation 2015

Published Date: 26 September 2015 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Ms Low Sin Leng
Chairman of NAFA Board

Mr Chia Mia Chiang
President of NAFA,

His Excellency Manuel Gerardo Talavera Espinar
Ambassador of Peru to Singapore

Parents and Graduands

Ladies and Gentlemen

1. Congratulations to the graduating cohort of 2015. It is my great pleasure to join you at your Convocation Ceremony. Today marks an important milestone for all of you. It is also a special moment to acknowledge and thank your families, teachers and friends who have stood by you throughout your learning journey.

2. I commend you all on your achievements at NAFA. You will soon be starting another leg of your journey. Some of you will be entering the working world while some of you will be continuing with further studies. Whichever route you choose, there will be ups and downs, new opportunities to explore and perhaps new challenges to overcome. But you can succeed if you continue to be passionate in what you do, believe in yourself, and persevere.

Stay passionate

3. For many of you, your stint at NAFA was a time of self-discovery, to find the areas of creative practice that you are passionate about and wish to pursue as a lifelong career. I am delighted to learn that amongst you, Ms. Silvia has found her passion and will continue to pursue it beyond NAFA. A diploma graduate in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing, she was crowned the champion fashion designer for the prestigious BAZAAR Asia New Generation Award this year. I understand that Silvia will go on to pursue a Master’s Degree in Luxury Brand Management at the Instituto Marangoni, in Milan, Italy.

Work hard and persevere

3. Another key to success in the workplace is perseverance. The NAFA curriculum prepares you well for this by integrating theory and practice, and immersing you in challenging work environments while in school. One example is the partnership between third year Video Production students and the National Museum of Singapore to produce videos showcasing icons in the Bras Basah-Bugis precinct. Such industry collaborations require you to work alongside clients, deep-dive into your fields of expertise and apply the skills and knowledge you have gained in the classrooms. You also had to rise to the occasion and deliver real-world projects in a professional environment. NAFA has played a crucial role here by providing a safe environment to test your mettle, stimulate and provoke your creative thinking, and encourage each of you to push new boundaries in your artistic endeavours.

4. Your alumni Ms Valerie Cheng and Mr Ricky Sim, who will be receiving the Distinguished Alumni Medal today, amply demonstrate the qualities of passion and perserverance.

5. Ms Valerie Cheng graduated from NAFA with a Diploma in Graphic Design. With her creative talent and strong foundation in graphic design, she found her niche and made her way into the fast-paced and highly demanding advertising world. She now serves as Chief Creative Officer at the Singapore office of J. Walter Thompson, one of the world’s best-known advertising agencies.

5. Mr Ricky Sim graduated from NAFA with a Diploma in Dance and has steadfastly pursued his passion for the past 20 years. A professional dancer, choreographer and dance educator, his works have been presented all over the world in places like the United States, Italy, Germany and Hong Kong. He is now director of various dance-related companies and also a member of the International Dance Council under UNESCO.

Refresh existing skills and pick up new ones

6. I also encourage you to continue honing and refreshing your skills after your graduation. The skills that we acquire during our student days will not be sufficient for our entire careers. As job requirements change, we too need to upgrade our skills to keep up with the changes. This is why the Government launched the SkillsFuture movement, which aims to help Singaporeans embrace lifelong learning. I encourage you to take advantage of various SkillsFuture initiatives as you move into the working world, and never stop learning. For instance, some years after your graduation, you may wish to return to NAFA for training. Singaporeans who are 25 years old and above can use the SkillsFuture Credit to offset fees for certain work-skills-related courses. The initial credit of $500 will be topped up at periodic intervals and will not expire.

Give back.

7. As you achieve success in your careers, I urge you to remember the community that has nurtured you and supported you in chasing your dreams. It may have been an emotionally, physically, and sometimes financially challenging journey for some of our students, but I am heartened to know that you continued to pursue your passions against all odds, with the support of NAFA. I understand in the Academic Year 2014 alone, NAFA had disbursed a total of $1.2 million worth of Scholarships, Merit Awards and Bursaries to 195 students. These awards were made possible by NAFA and generous donations from philanthropists and organisations. I would like to commend NAFA and the donors for supporting our students. To the graduating cohort, I hope you will remember the support you have received from your alma mater, and in turn, extend the spirit of giving by supporting other students in need.

8. I am also glad to note that NAFA has multiple community engagement programmes which allow students to devise creative and innovative ways for utilising art to inspire and touch the hearts of people from all walks of life.

9. For example, this year, 11 students in the Fine Art, Art Teaching and 3D Design programmes partnered NUH’s Social Work department and art therapists in a community engagement project called Project Dreamcatchers.

10. The students worked with chronically-ill children to conceptualise and produce art pieces illustrating everyday triumphs in their lives. This has helped to raise awareness about chronical illnesses among children, and also contributed to cultivating a culture of empathy and understanding in our larger community. I hope the spirit of giving that you have picked up in NAFA will continue to flourish even after your graduation.


11. I am sure that you will all remember the passion that led you to pursue the arts, and remember the community that supported you in your learning journey. Treat the challenges that life throws at you as opportunities to scale new heights. Stay passionate, and persevere. Remember, as Leonardo Da Vinci put it, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

12. Congratulations once again, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavours. Thank you.

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