HASS PhD Student Suhaila’s Journey in SUTD

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HASS interviewed PhD student Suhaila (Class of 2018) on her SUTD journey thus far. Read on to find out more about the recent conferences that she has attended as well as her hopes and plans in assuming the Academic Director position in the Graduate Student Association Executive Committee of 2019/2020.


What motivated you to pursue doctoral studies in SUTD under HASS?

Before coming to SUTD, my education has largely been in the disciplines of social science. I majored in psychology, sociology, criminology and security studies, fuelled by my passion to help others through social research and my keen interest in critical social issues and current affairs. During the course of my undergraduate study, I also worked as a research assistant, involved in applied projects investigating problematic social media usage and designing a password hygiene training programme for youths.

Graduation Day

My involvement in such cyber-related and digital literacy research exposed me to emerging trends and evolving social issues surrounding technology and society. In particular, it sparked my interest to pursue research of a more interdisciplinary nature in the hopes of helping others in times of rapid digital transformation. With its inaugural HASS PhD programme, I knew that SUTD would be the best place for me to realise my research goals, especially with its emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and application of theoretical learning and design-thinking to solving societal challenges faced by people.


Can you share more about your journey in SUTD so far?

My journey in SUTD has been amazing so far, as there is always something new to be learnt or experienced every day. Far from what I thought I would do in my undergraduate days, I find myself now exposed to the world of coding and programming whilst deepening my holistic understanding in issues of sustainability, smart cities and planning for the urban future. Although the HASS PhD community is relatively small, I feel that we are at the best juncture to interact and collaborate with a diverse team of individuals from across different disciplines, equipping us with new knowledge and relevant skills that can aid us in doing research for social good.

The small but mighty HASS PhD Community in SUTD

Opportunities are also abundant here for personal and professional growth. With the support of my PhD supervisor Professor Lim Sun Sun, Office of Graduate Studies and SUTD, I was fortunate to be chosen as one of the four delegates representing Singapore at the 15th Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative 2019. Through this 4-day conference, I gained fresh perspectives on critical urban issues and worked together with youth representatives from all across the region in developing innovative digital solutions in the areas of youth opportunities, living environment, well-being and mobility towards a sustainable future.

With the other Singaporean Delegates (left) and with the culturally-diverse Mobility Team (right) at the 15th Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative 2019

I also had the opportunity to attend the 10th University Scholars Leadership Symposium 2019 with 5 other PhD students from different pillars in SUTD. We heard from prominent leaders such as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir Mohamed, and changemakers such as Cofounder and Director of Living on One, Chris Temple, who shared their insights on youth empowerment and efforts in making positive social change. Meeting people from all parts of the world, we also forged international friendships with like-minded and passionate individuals and learnt about issues beyond our own backyards.

With the SUTD representatives (left) and with newfound international friends (right) at the 10th University Scholars Leadership Symposium 2019

Thus, there is never a dull moment in SUTD, where I am looking forward to participating in even more enriching learning opportunities.


With your new exciting role as the Academic Director, what are some hopes and plans you have for the graduate community in SUTD?

Each and every graduate student might have a different story to tell of their academic journey in SUTD. My mission is to make this story as exciting and intellectually stimulating as it can be – filling it with academic events and initiatives that will not only promote cross-disciplinary networking and collaboration but also opportunities for continual learning and growth.

New faces of the Graduate Student Association Executive Committee (2019/2020)

Events such as Lunchtime Graduate Research-and-Sharing Forum and the SUTD Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference are still in the planning phase. Participation in such events  can provide opportunities to enhance one’s graduate profile and transferable skills, which may boost employment prospects, further demonstrate your research prowess and showcase your commitment to personal/professional development.

Fellow graduate students in SUTD, stay tuned for more updates and do support and participate in the events planned just for you! 😊