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A university education that provides the best of both worlds

At the Singapore campus of James Cook University, Ms Elsie Hui enjoyed both holistic and academic support, while gaining the education she needed for a fulfilling career in psychology after graduation.

A university education that provides the best of both worlds

JCU graduate Elsie Hui gained an understanding of autism and other disabilities like cerebral palsy in addition to her knowledge of psychology, which helped her greatly in her role as a learning facilitator at the Rainbow Centre. Photos: James Cook University

After enrolling in junior college, Ms Elsie Hui realised that she wanted to study something she was passionate about – psychology.

“Ever since I was young, I have been intrigued by how the human mind works,” the 25-year-old said, adding that she enjoyed watching documentaries on criminology, mental disabilities and illnesses. Ms Hui left junior college to enrol in Temasek Polytechnic, from which she eventually graduated with a Diploma in Psychology.

In July 2016, she embarked on the Bachelor of Psychological Science programme, including her one-year honours, at the Singapore campus of James Cook University (JCU).

“JCU was one of the few schools in Singapore that offered a science degree in psychology, as compared to other universities that only offered an arts degree in the field,” she explained.

DEVELOPING CONFIDENCE IN HERSELF

At JCU, Ms Hui had the flexibility to choose the number and type of modules she took in each trimester. JCU has a trimester schedule, allowing students to complete their Bachelor programme in two years instead of three.

Ms Hui was able to customise her academic load by spreading out higher-level modules across different trimesters and pairing them with easier modules. She said: “I enjoyed this fast-paced and flexible learning process as I could plan my own learning progress and group the modules I felt were relevant to one another.”

During her polytechnic years, Ms Hui struggled with statistics. University proved to be no different initially, as she continued to grapple with coding methods and data analysis.

However, at JCU, she had the help of Dr Patrick Lin, her lecturer in her second trimester. He guided Ms Hui in mastering statistics and boosted her confidence by encouraging her to enrol in the honours year for her course and taking her on as a supervisee for her thesis research paper.

“Dr Lin helped me to figure out a criteria checklist to find out which statistical analysis method I needed to use, and also taught me to interpret the analysis results and what it meant for the research study,” recalled Ms Hui. “I eventually did well enough to be a statistics peer tutor to my other university mates in the third trimester.”

Besides academic support, JCU through its Inter-campus Mobility programme also gave Ms Hui the chance to experience a semester abroad at the JCU Cairns campus in July 2017.

Ms Hui, who has fond memories of hiking, volunteering at an animal centre and barbecue nights with newfound friends, was happy with the seamless, hassle-free experience where all accommodation and activities were provided for her. Unlike some other universities’ mobility programmes, she only needed to pay her usual Singapore-based school fees instead of paying the Australian campus.

ACQUIRING PROFESSIONAL SKILLS

Having graduated from JCU in April 2019, Ms Hui is now a learning facilitator at the Rainbow Centre, where she is part of the teaching team helping students with disabilities to learn the skills needed to live an independent life. Dr Lin, her statistics mentor, served as one of the referees on her resume.

At JCU, she gained an understanding of autism and other disabilities like cerebral palsy in addition to her knowledge of psychology. This has helped her to design strategies to increase students’ engagement and interest in lessons. Modules like educational psychology, child development psychology, and behaviour and learning were especially useful.

“I was able to brainstorm strategies and refer to evidence-based practices that I came across in school in order to adapt and create behavioural management interventions that help students learn more effectively,” she explained.

Reflecting on her time in JCU, Ms Hui said JCU has opened more doors for her career.

“We should enjoy our university life, and this can be achieved given the flexibility that JCU provides,” she said. “With the science degree in psychology that you graduate with from JCU, there might be more job opportunities and choices that you can explore.”

Find out more about JCU’s programmes at JCU’s Accessible 24/7 Open House.

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