When Rasiah Raslyn Agatha (CS’10) enrolled at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information eight years ago, she was almost a decade older than most of her peers in the undergraduate programme.
The then 30-year-old had worked as a professional emcee for almost 10 years after graduating from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
During her time in WKWSCI, Raslyn earned nicknames like “da jie” and “lao niang,” which translates to “big sister” and “old lady” in Mandarin respectively, from her friends.
But she did not let the age gap daunt her. She joined Nanyang Technological University’s Debate Society, where she was part of the team for the 4th Asian Universities Debating Championship in 2008. The team eventually came in first. Her Final Year Project (FYP) research paper on crisis communication was also one of the top submissions at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
These experiences in NTU gave her opportunities to uncover her strengths, said Raslyn. Through her FYP, she realised that she was capable of taking an idea and developing it into full-scale research project.
“Studying (in WKWSCI) helped me to grow as a student for life,” said Raslyn, adding that her time in the debate squad had also helped to hone her analytical and critical-thinking skills about world affairs.
Thankful for the opportunities she had in NTU, Raslyn is now giving back to her alma mater as President of the NTU Alumni Association (Gulf Cooperation Council) based in Abu Dhabi.
She relocated to Abu Dhabi with her husband in 2016 and founded the association last year.
“I think it’s nice for alumni to give back to the university and help current students because they are from the same family.”
RASIAH RASLYN AGATHA (CS'10), President of the NTU Alumni Association (Gulf Cooperation Council)
The 631-member association serves as a gateway to the Middle East for NTU alumni, current students and faculty. It aims to improve engagement and strengthen ties among NTU’s network of alumni within the Middle East by providing more networking opportunities.
Inspired by the closely-knit alumni associations of established universities like Harvard and Stanford University, Raslyn hopes that the GCC will help to strengthen connections within the NTU alumni network.
Stronger relationships among NTU alumni can increase chances of collaboration, said Raslyn, who also works a consultant at Alliance, an Abu Dhabi-based firm that specialises in human performance development.
“Schools like Harvard and Stanford University are very strong in terms of alumni engagement,” she said. “The graduates have a very strong sense of pride for their alma mater and are more open to working together. I want our NTU alumni to feel like they can conduct business and collaborate with fellow alumni easily.”
Beyond networking opportunities, the association also hopes to give current students “a broader worldview” with internship opportunities in the Middle East.
For example, several short-term internship programmes for business students are currently available in selected companies operating in the Middle East. Raslyn hopes to roll out more programmes for other courses in future.
The association also oversees the funding for these projects. “We try to give students the full university experience (including overseas internships), especially for those who are not affluent enough, or who are unable to get funding (from elsewhere),” she said.
It is important for the association to reach out to current students and start engaging with them, said Raslyn. This will also help better prepare students for the workforce, she added.
While helming the Alumni Association comes with big challenges and responsibilities, Raslyn is happy to lead the charge.
“I think it’s nice for alumni to give back to the university and help current students because they are from the same family,” she said.