Thinker with a Mission, Leader with a Heart series
(Emma Lai Oi Yeng, 2T26, Class of 2021 (left), and Chua Ann Teng, 2T05, Class of 2020 (right), receiving the National Young Leader Award 2020 from Mrs Phyllis Lim.)
There is a saying that leadership is the extraordinary ability to get extraordinary achievements from ordinary people. This is consistent with Catholic Junior College’s (CJC) mission of developing Thinkers with a Mission, and Leaders with a Heart. Both Emma Lai Oi Yeng (2T26, Class of 2021), and Chua Ann Teng (2T05, Class of 2020), have exemplified the values of the college’s mission, leading to their nominations as two of Halogen Foundation’s Top 50 National Young Leader Awardees of 2020 in Singapore.
Emma Lai Oi Yeng, 2T26, Class of 2021
“Put others before yourself” was the simple axiom that inspired Emma Lai to give back to society in any way she could. This was what motivated Emma to initiate and spearhead Project EANA (Empowering All Children who Need Assistance) with her friends, Amber, Amelia, and Najaat. Project EANA considers worthy causes to support, such as a fundraising collaboration between Citi-YMCA, Youth-for-Causes, and Children's Wishing Well. The collaboration’s objectives are to assist with raising awareness about children in dysfunctional and underprivileged family situations, administer help to the underprivileged children in Singapore, and to value every child such that no child is left behind. Emma, along with her friends, raised awareness and funds for their cause by selling items like tie-dye shirts, tote bags, and bucket hats. They also managed to recruit over 30 young volunteers across Singapore who were willing to give time to design and prepare the items.
Starting such an ambitious idea proved arduous as Emma already had to deal with her studies, Project Work and the responsibilities of being CJC’s Nexus Investment and Entrepreneurship Society President. The pandemic presented different challenges owing to the lack of physical meetings. Moreover, during the circuit breaker period, certain plans faced limitations and frequent road blocks. For instance, after Phase 2 was initiated, they had to put in place safe distancing measures in the preparation of merchandise. Despite these, Emma and her team overcame the odds by being spontaneous and adaptable. Success did not come easy as all of them sacrificed their leisure and study time in order to complete their tasks within the project’s timeline.
Emma remained steadfast in her mission as she held on to the belief that the children must not be left behind or ignored. By being resilient, strong and lionhearted, Emma and her team raised over $1,000 for the project. The National Young Leader Award is an affirmation of Emma’s mission and purpose to serve others in the community. Emma would like to encourage her peers and beyond to volunteer so that people have the opportunity to grow personally, understand themselves more and discover hidden talents they have.
(Emma Lai, second from right, wearing the tie-dye shirts her team produced for Project EANA)
Chua Ann Teng, (2T05, Class of 2020)
Chua Ann Teng’s leadership journey in CJC was a colourful one as the Captain of the college’s Shooting CCA. Ann Teng was also an Orientation Group Leader as well as the Aesthetics Leader of her class. Her passion for shooting began when she was in primary school. This passion was the driving force of her leadership style in the college. She understood that not everyone who joined her CCA would share the same fervour. In this regard, she would share her love for shooting with her teammates whenever she could. As Captain of the CCA, she inspired her teammates through the tips and tricks, and technical expertise she had learnt from her many years in the sport.
Ann Teng’s vision for leadership was simple: she wanted to be the voice of her community. She valued inclusivity and strived for everyone’s ideas to be reflected. Her teammates were not regarded as followers – rather, they were her equal. She worked hard to forge an environment in which her teammates would feel comfortable and cared for. Despite the unforeseen hurdles thrown at her during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ann Teng did her best to keep spirits high in the CCA. She continued to encourage and recognise the efforts of her teammates, making them feel acknowledged and affirmed.
Her time in CJC has sculpted her into a better leader. From her three different leadership positions, she learnt important values such as resilience, care, and discipline. She also received tremendous support from her teachers - in terms of both academic and emotional support. Under the mentorship of her teachers, she acquired the vital skills of communicating effectively and listening with empathy to the concerns of her members. These lessons have positively impacted her leadership style and she looks forward to applying these in her future endeavours.
This award serves as a sign of acknowledgement and encouragement to Ann Teng; that her efforts have been recognised, for her to keep improving herself, and to continue striving in her leadership journey. Ann Teng believes that everyone can exhibit leadership simply through their small acts towards other people in their daily lives. She tells her juniors not to be afraid of stepping up, and she hopes to see more ideas by the current and upcoming cohorts of CJC’s leaders.
In Veritate et Caritate
About Halogen Foundation’s Top 50 National
Young Leader Award
Halogen Foundation’s National Young Leader Award complements the Singapore Youth Award (for youths up to 35 years old) by reaching out to a specific age group of young leaders who are between 15 and 19 years old. This award was launched to recognise young leaders who are involved, engaged, and show conviction in the things they do, regardless of their academic achievements.