When Phoebe Ang Si Oon travelled to Melbourne in 1993 to further her education, little did she know she would become the first of three members of her family to lay the foundation for their futures at Trinity College.
Phoebe (TCFS 1993) was among the first cohorts to take part in the Foundation Studies program at Trinity College. And as it turned out, she wouldn’t be the last member of her family who would make the 6000-kilometre-plus journey from their home in Singapore to the college grounds, with her brother Eugene (TCFS 2000) and more recently her son Isaac (TCFS 2019) following in her footsteps.
Phoebe’s journey began in 1993 when she travelled to Australia as a 17-year-old to enrol in the program at Trinity College.
Keen to explore a future in business or finance-related fields, she completed the one-year Foundation Studies program before entering into a Bachelor of Commerce, Accounting and Finance at the neighbouring University of Melbourne.
Phoebe says the Trinity College program was invaluable in helping her transition between different educational styles.
‘Trinity was instrumental in providing a holistic and well-rounded program to ease students into university lectures and tutorials,’ says Phoebe.
‘The foundation course is really good as well because it gives you the option to tailor it to what you want to do at uni. Every student is then responsible for driving their own learning based on the subjects chosen.’
Described by Phoebe as ‘a nurturing environment’ with teachers that really supported and cared for their students, the Foundation Studies program also fostered a sense of inclusion and a respect for diversity.
‘The diversity between nationalities was a huge difference to the Singaporean education system, but I think the mix of students positively contributes to different points of view because everyone comes from different backgrounds and cultures, so will have had different experiences.
‘Each student was encouraged to express their views and opinions as well as listen to differing views of others, which was all very interesting for me,’ she says. ‘One of the other highlights of my time there was learning Cantonese – a language I never knew – through Hong Kong and Malaysian friends.’
Since graduating from university, Phoebe has established a successful career in business and finance, working with everyone from start-ups to multinational agency holding groups including Dentsu Aegis Network, where she was the integration lead for mergers and acquisitions for newly acquired businesses across the Asia Pacific.
Mid last year she took up the role of chief financial officer at Eyeota, a leading audience technology platform enabling the intelligent use of data in the advertising and analytics space.
While it’s been 26 years since Phoebe’s time in Melbourne, she remains passionate about Trinity College, regularly attending alumni events in Singapore with her younger brother Eugene, who also completed the Foundation Studies course and went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) at the University of Melbourne.
With her son Isaac completing his time at Trinity College in 2019, Phoebe says she is looking forward to having all three of them at the next alumni gathering.
‘I was happy and proud that Isaac was also very interested to attend Trinity as his personal choice after learning about the program, and I think it’s really cool that he can now officially join alumni events,’ says Phoebe.
Like his mother before him, Isaac Wong Hsun Yi was 17 when he attended Trinity College last year. While he says his mother’s positive feedback about the program played a part in his decision to enrol, he was also swayed by its links to the University of Melbourne, where he one day hopes to study psychology.
‘I found out about Trinity College through my mother. She told me about how the teachers were really kind and helpful when teaching and cared about your learning,’ says Isaac.
‘Completing the Foundation Studies course gave me the peace of mind knowing that I secured a place at the University of Melbourne, which opens up the possibility for me to study psychology and hopefully become a clinical psychologist in the future.’
Isaac is currently serving his compulsory two-year Army National Service in Singapore and says his experiences at Trinity College taught him a range of skills that will be useful now and in the future.
‘My time at Trinity College helped me to be more adaptable to new environments and more independent while living alone; such as learning to cope with homesickness and doing simple chores like laundry,’ says Isaac.
‘Trinity College also helped me hone my critical thinking skills by encouraging different perspectives and allowing us to express views and ask questions, which are crucial skills for university.’
Pictured above: Phoebe and her son Isaac
By Michelle Meehan