Richard Ngo vividly remembers his first night in Tasmania.
It was a quarter of a century ago and the first year Engineering student was fresh off the plane from Singapore.
Rain and wind bore down on his room, as he lay in the pitch black, crying.
“I felt helpless, lonely and so much culture shock, and I missed my family back in Singapore,” Richard recalls.
“I was alone in a foreign land, so many miles away from home, and suddenly inside me there was an urge to pack my luggage and return to Singapore.”
He was stoic and vowed to stay the course.
Fortunately, Richard’s loneliness and culture shock were soon alleviated through the support and bonds that he found and forged through the Singapore Students Society.
“It gave me courage and comfort knowing that I was not alone in a faraway land and I have memories from that time that I will cherish forever,” he said.
Richard recognised the power of the Singaporean network to transform lives and volunteered to serve on the committee and organise events.
“I felt a sense of pride and joy seeing fellow Singaporean students coming together enjoying the company of each other.”
He soon developed a deep love for Tasmania, an island where natural wonders are only a stone’s throw away from campuses and the pace of life is highly conducive to successful studies.
Even when he graduated from a Bachelor of Engineering in 1996, Richard remained resolute that he would continue to foster bonds between Singaporean students, this time as the Singapore Alumni Network Leader.
It’s almost impossible, even for an engineer, to quantify the number of hours Richard has contributed to his alumni community.
He combines his busy role as a Principal Engineer with SP Group in Singapore— where he manages the operation & maintenance of the 66kV transmission network in Singapore— with being our alumni ‘super connector.’
For more than two decades he has built relationships with established graduates, established bonds with new alums returning to Singapore, and kept fellow alums up-to-date with news of their alma mater and their second island home.
Richard volunteers to assist the University’s Alumni team with organising events and identifying graduates to participate in them. He has even participated in conversations about how to build an ever-stronger alumni network.
“Richard is the glue that binds together the Singapore network, ensuring that it remains strong and viable,” the University of Tasmania’s Associate Director, Alumni Relations Rob Blandford said.
“He has created a sense of belonging and support to alumni and assisted in facilitating lifelong connections and affinity with the University.
“We are incredibly grateful to Richard for his extraordinary and sustained contribution to building and maintaining a strong Singaporean alumni network.”
Richard jokes that he is indeed a “one man show” keeping the vital link between the islands alive.
“Everyone is busy when starting their career after uni, but if one has the passion or interest in doing something, they will make time for it,” he said.
Whilst the impact of Richard’s efforts is far reaching, there is also a personal and professional pleasure that he derives from engaging with his alumni community.
“Volunteering has enabled me to create opportunities for alums to connect with their alma mater, but it has also given me the opportunity to build up my planning, communication and networking skills,” he said.
In time, he hopes that other alums will be inspired to follow in his footsteps.
“One day my time will be up and I look forward to when another UTAS alumnus/alumna, who has the same passion, succeeds me and keeps the link between the University and the alumni alive, and maybe even brings it to the next level in the future.”
If you have been inspired by Richard’s story and would be keen to establish a University of Tasmania alumni network in your country or city, please email the team at Alumni.Office@utas.edu.au telling us a little about yourself.
Written by Lucie van den Berg for Alumni Magazine Issue 53, 2022.
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