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SAF Young Leader Award: Goh Siau Tan

SYLA Siau Tan.png
Goh Siau Tan from CG 08/21 was one of 21 students in Singapore to be awarded the 2022 SAF Young Leader Award, a book prize that honours students’ ability to juggle both their academic and extracurricular commitments with exceptional poise and calm dignity. Siau Tan will be given a cash award, invitations to exclusive MINDEF/SAF events as well as a scholarship interview for overseas studies upon application.

We caught up with the prodigious former Delta House Captain to find out how he manages to do it all. Here’s what he shared with us:

Siau Tan: “It’s not rocket science. It’s actually just a matter of strategising your priorities at each stage of your academic life. I think a common misconception is that ‘balancing everything’ means having a decked-out schedule where you do a little bit of everything at once, but that’s simply not true.”

“Can you even do a little bit of everything at once? That sounds pretty tiring!”

Siau Tan: “Yes, my sentiments exactly! You can’t. I tried living by that mantra for the entirety of my JC1 year and realised that it is highly unsustainable because you a) end up being burnt out, and b) you can’t really learn as much from each experience if you’re constantly tying up loose ends for another. So, strategise. For example, at the beginning of my JC2 year, when the academic workload was lighter, I focused a lot on my work in the Students’ Council (SC) because that was the highlight of my SC journey. As the National School Games period approached, I started to pursue my passion in Volleyball and put more time into that. Now, as we’re nearing prelims, I’m channeling all my energy into my studies instead. Ultimately, it’s all about knowing which things to prioritise at which juncture.”

“Apart from strategising, what other tips would you give to your juniors?”

Siau Tan: “Strive to develop a complementary relationship between your academics, CCAs and personal lives. When you miss a shot on the Volleyball court, instead of beating yourself up – try again, aim higher and correct your form. The same grit and tenacity can be applied to your academics. If you do badly for a test, practice again and refine your answering techniques instead of crying all day. So, focus on transferring the learning points from one domain to another and you’ll see that your school life is actually quite synergistic. Realising that allowed me to foster richer experiences in school.”

“One final question: What keeps you going?”

Siau Tan: “Passion… Purpose… Drive. Wait, are those the school values? I guess, they’re useful ones to have! While I am pragmatic in going after certain pursuits to boost my portfolio, I also make it a point to undertake activities which I genuinely have a passion for. Be it H3 Physics, Volleyball or SC – never do anything if you don’t have the heart for it or you’ll regret it instantly and burn out that much quicker. If you think of it from a macro perspective, my building of a robust portfolio is also ultimately done with the intention of broadening the avenues to pursue my passions in the future. These values are important takeaways from my TJ journey and hopefully, with this award, I can explore how I can tap on my passion for Physics to contribute to Singapore’s national defence.”