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A Fine Run

Garett Tok Ern Liang - Valedictorian of the Class of 2015

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Six years ago, the appeal that NUS High had on twelve-year-old Garett Tok Ern Liang was more visceral than rational, and he was unable to explain it back then. Perhaps it was the atmosphere of the school: one that sought to nurture its students and open up opportunities in any field the student might display interest in and passion for. No other institution would allow him to pursue an Advanced Research Project in Behavioural Economics, hone his skills in Physics Olympiad, and participate in the Model United Nations in the same year. For NUS High, this was a norm rather than an exception, and this has ignited a stronger thirst for learning in Garett.

One of the fondest memories Garett will have of NUS High will be his time in his Co-Curricular Activity (CCA), Drama Club, because of the many memories and bonds he forged with his other CCA members, and for how it has expanded his comfort zone. In addition, his stint in the Organising Team of the Sustainable Development Youth Convention actively challenged him to examine his perspectives on issues regarding Sustainable Development, and consider stances of the various stakeholders. Both these experiences played a major role in shaping Garett to who he is today, and he is grateful to have been given the opportunity to take on leadership roles to contribute back and help craft the experience for his juniors.

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"You end up at crossroads, and conventional wisdom tells us to consider the terrain of the paths ahead. But I've learnt over the years that it matters less which path you take, as compared to who you're travelling the path with, and NUS High has been such an amazing journey down the rabbit hole precisely because of my peers: inspiring, supportive, and wonderfully diverse."

Curious about his journey “down the rabbit hole”, we posed a few questions to Garett:

1.   Tell us about the Advanced Research Project you did in Behavioural Economics.  

Imagine you have a choice, between a gamble where you have a 50% chance of winning $20 and 50% chance of getting nothing, versus a 100% chance of getting $10. Will you go for the gamble? Mathematically these two choices give you the same expected value, but some people might feel that the gamble is too risky, and yet others are more than willing to take their chances.     

My Advanced Research Project was about determining people's risk preferences, and examining if their risk preferences are correlated to factors such as numeracy abilities and their choice strategies.    

2.  What would you say is your favourite topic in physics, and why?  

Physics as a subject captured my interest because of how most of the phenomena are relatively easy to visualise. After understanding the concepts, I found it easy to develop an intuition upon reading the problems. If I had to choose a favourite topic in physics, it will probably be mechanics, given how it was the first topic I was introduced to, and how it perfectly exemplifies the idea of being easily visualised.        

3.  Name a drama or play that you have enjoyed the most.  

Play that I have watched/read:

Boom by Jean Tay! There is probably some bias involved, given that it was one of the plays we explored in literature class, but it particularly appealed to me because of how it was able to effectively make use of Singlish to deliver its message. There's something about the rawness of Singlish that enables it to establish a more heartfelt message.       

Play that I have performed:

7 Reasons Not to be in a Play! It was a play put up by our Drama Club for Colourfusion, our school's biannual charity concert, and it was a really interesting play because it revolved around the idea that people should avoid putting up plays. We really enjoyed every aspect of the show, from going through the rehearsals to making the props and designing the costumes, and we were overjoyed to learn how much the audience enjoyed the play from the sound of their applause!       

4.   In your free time what genre of books do you enjoy reading?  

It really depends; Most of my reading happens when I'm out with my parents. When they do their shopping I pop into a bookstore and pick whatever captures my eye, so I end up reading a rather large selection of books. At the moment, I am reading through Moral Letters to Lucilius by the Philosopher Seneca, which I had bought at a whim because I wanted to see if I could apply any of these philosophical perspectives to my life.