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Gaining strength, resilience and an edge in the working world

Choosing to attend James Cook University in Singapore gave Ms Ariel Lim more than just a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology – it enriched her both professionally and personally.

Gaining strength, resilience and an edge in the working world

Ms Ariel Lim learned people skills such as empathy, listening and counselling that have helped her both in and outside of work. Photos: James Cook University/Lim Swee Ming

A childhood spent reading crime novels and a gift for listening to the problems of her schoolmates proved instrumental behind Ms Ariel Lim’s choice to pursue a degree in psychology. It was a decision that shaped her for life, and one that has given her far more than just academic knowledge and professional skills.

Now 33, Ms Lim graduated from James Cook University (JCU) with a Bachelor of Psychology in 2011. After her graduation from Pioneer Junior College, Ms Lim evaluated all her options, which included a local university, before settling on an overseas degree from James Cook University’s Singapore campus.

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In contrast to JCU’s focused trimester structure that allows students to receive their degree in a shorter timeframe, the local university had a strict four-year-long programme with first-year modules that Ms Lim felt were not relevant to her desired field of study. In addition, she preferred studying directly at JCU – as opposed to having her modules administered through a third-party educational institution – and liked the fact that Australian psychology degree programmes had a robust reputation.

“Also, JCU has a psychology clinic in Singapore that is open to the public, and students can gain practical experience there,” said Ms Lim. “This showed that JCU was serious about training students in this area.”

GETTING SUPPORT FOR MATH, AND MORE

Statistics, a math-based subject, is an essential part of psychology studies. For Ms Lim, the statistics module proved to be a bugbear since she had struggled with mathematics since secondary school. “Despite putting in more effort into mathematics than my other subjects, it had always been my lowest scoring subject,” she shared candidly.

At JCU, Ms Lim coped with the help of her study group, which tutored her in statistics. She also credits two of her JCU lecturers who made time after classes to assist her study group. “The lecturers were very encouraging when I made mistakes – and instead of providing solutions, they would nudge us to think a little more in the right direction, so that we learnt and understood the concepts. I really appreciate them because they kept believing in me, which motivated me to keep going.”

Outside of statistics, Ms Lim and her classmates were able to put their psychology training to immediate use, learning to better themselves with the help of lecturers. “Our lecturers saw and listened to us as individuals,” she recounted. “Our past experiences were acknowledged, especially during the modules on counselling, trauma, and personality psychology. These experiences helped me understand my strengths and work on my weaknesses, and in turn helped me to grow more aware and more respectful of others’ experiences.”

READY FOR THE WORKING WORLD AND BEYOND

Ms Lim reckons that studying at JCU offered her a taste of diversity, citing the many working professionals of different ages and nationalities who were her classmates. “They had many valuable experiences to share, not only about their work – which we found fascinating – but also life experiences.”

This exposure to a broad range of students stood Ms Lim in good stead when she embarked on a career in human resources after graduation. “As my job scope involved working with people, JCU’s psychology programme equipped me with priceless people skills that served me well, such as empathy, listening and counselling.”

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In 2019, Ms Lim – who has loved singing since young – left her corporate job to focus full-time on her company Relentless Vocal Studio, after having been a part-time voice teacher since 2015. She continues to use the training she received in university to help students overcome barriers in their vocal progress.

“For example, I’ve found that some students fear singing above a certain loudness due to how they were required to be quiet at home,” she explained. “Strategies like openly addressing anxieties that the singer faces and working together with them for solutions can encourage and motivate them. They are able to break through the fear that has held them back for years, and I have to thank JCU for equipping me with these skills to touch lives, one at a time.”

On a personal note, Ms Lim said that studying in JCU showed her that there was no “correct” or “best” way to lead her life. “Interacting with my diverse group of peers who have made – and are still making – bold, unconventional decisions and are finding fulfilment at work by impacting lives, inspires and emboldens me to do things differently,” she reflected. “I would say I have become a more accepting person who dares to take more risks and is more resilient.”

Find out more about James Cook University’s Bachelor of Psychological Science programme at Virtual Admissions Day on Sep 25.

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