Celebrating Our Shining Stars
31 Jul 2023
A total of 463 “Shining Stars” were honoured at the Student Excellence Awards (SEA) 2023 for their inspiring achievements in areas such as sports, community service, sustainability, innovation and enterprise.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) first launched the SEA in 2004 to recognise outstanding student contributions beyond the classroom and promote all-roundedness. The theme for this year, “Our Shining Stars”, emphasised the positive impact our students had in “lighting up” the communities they served.
Third-year Biomedical Science student Kulandaiveludayar Senthilkumar Gautam and Community Development graduate Charleen Tan Zixuan were among the award recipients. They received the top honours, the Chairman’s Award and NP Character Award, respectively.
Gautam (right) was awarded the Chairman’s Award, Special Commendation Award: Sports and Full Colours Award (Track & Field) at Student Excellence Awards 2023.
A natural leader who advocates for the community
Driven by a strong interest in global issues, Gautam actively participated in Model United Nations programmes, during which he bagged awards like Best Position Paper, Outstanding Delegate Award, and Best Verbal Commendation. Committed to turning ideas into actions, he co-founded Cool Science International (CSI) to bring together youths passionate about sustainable development. Among the events organised by CSI include student leadership programmes and climate change conferences aimed at motivating youths to create positive change in their communities.
As President of the NP Youth Academy Pacers, he led the group in the organisation of mental health talks to raise awareness of mental health issues. His eagerness to learn and serve also spurred him to join the NP Current Affairs Club, the National Young Leaders' Fellowship by Halogen Foundation Singapore, and fundraising events like the NP Cares Walk Fiesta and Hair For Hope.
An avid sportsman, Gautam represented NP in the Polytechnic-ITE Games (POL-ITE) and Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic (IVP) Games, where he achieved top individual positions. As the team captain, he was credited for his leadership role in guiding his Track & Field team to podium finishes.
Gautam said: “Education is an unattainable luxury for many of the 58.4 million children in the world. Singaporean youths are fortunate to have this opportunity. My conviction is that we should not merely focus on making money and having fun, but to seek to excel in what we do and make a positive impact on others as we do so.”
Charleen (right) was awarded the NP Character Award and Special Commendation Award: Community Service at Student Excellence Awards 2023.
An overcomer who strives for excellence in school and service
Placed in a children’s home at 14, Charleen has shown remarkable resilience in overcoming personal adversities. With the support of her school counsellors, social workers and NP’s financial support during her diploma studies, she persevered through the trying times and even went on to give back to the community.
As the Community Engagement Head at ALittleChange, a youth-run non-profit organisation, she led in the planning and execution of aid distribution activities and community projects that benefitted low-income families. To offer practical help to those in need, Charleen volunteered as a case writer at Meet-the-People Sessions to help residents draft emails to seek assistance from relevant agencies. Fuelled by her passion to serve, she volunteered with Beyond Social Services’ youth outreach activities and TRIGEN’s elderly homecare project, as well as interned at not-for-profit agencies REACH Community Services, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and Halogen Foundation Singapore.
Currently a student at the National University of Singapore’s College of Humanities and Sciences, Charlene’s eventual goal is to achieve financial stability so that she can care for her younger siblings.
Charleen said: “These awards serve as both validation and encouragement for me, motivating me to strive even harder. I hope my achievements can inspire others to overcome the challenges they face and pursue their goals.”
Watch this video to learn more about Gautam and Charleen's stories: