To me, the Ridzwan Dzafir Community Award not only represents an opportunity to continue my pursuit of academic excellence, it also serves as an inspiring symbol of perseverance, thought leadership, and unwavering dedication towards improving the community as well as the achievement of progressive social development. These values achieved average to below-average results from primary school up until the latter years of my undergraduate studies (in which I had to re-take my ‘A’ levels), I am grateful to have my relentless efforts at upgrading myself to be rewarded with a Master’s degree from the National University of Singapore, and now, an opportunity to complete a PhD at the University of Cambridge.
I began to take huge interest in the area of ageing and post-retirement age employment after encountering the difficulties experienced by my retired father as well as the retired parents of members of my social circle. As the challenges of an ageing population begin to unravel across various social groups in Singapore, it is imperative to ensure that society develops inclusively and equitably with the guidance and support of empirically-grounded and empathetic thought leaders. I aim to position my role as a social scientist towards filling gaps in knowledge ageing population especially those more neglected segments such as women and ethnic minorities in the workforce.
With the support of the Ridzwan Dzafir Community Award Scholarship, I am now able to advance in my career as an academic through the doctoral programme in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. My first year in Cambridge has been extremely fruitful both intellectually and socially. I have taken full advantage of the excellent teaching facilities by completing courses and workshops on quantitative research methods. Thus far, the supervision given by my primary and secondary advisors has been of the highest quality and ensures that my research questions address fundamental social and theoretical concerns. I have also been actively involved in cross-disciplinary research groups on labour market issues as well as in the organizing of PhD Research Skills Seminars for the Sociology department. Overall, Cambridge University has been a highly conducive environment for me to develop the necessary skills and networks to produce socially conscious and empirically rigorous scholarship.
My ambition as an academic and a social scientist is to be a public intellectual that furthers the late Mr Ridzwan Dzafir’s legacy of promoting social change through progressive thinking. I am glad to be on my way to realising my dream of contributing towards building a more meaningful, financially secured, and sustainable future for older adults in Singapore.
– Suen Johan Bin Mohd Zain –
Source: MENDAKI Singapore