Feature

Look who’s here

In a sea of faces, Chrystal Chan spots several familiar faces among the freshmen

Hey, isn’t that up-and-coming singer-songwriter Gentle Bones? And wait, that student with the big eyes and bright smile, isn’t she Shanice Hedger, finalist on MediaCorp’s reality television singing competition, The Final One? Oh, that really tall guy, that’s the Singapore Slingers basketballer, right? Ah, did you say that Ong Yi Teck, whom you’ve been following on his Instagram account friedricebucket after his portrait of Lee Kuan Yew went viral, is also here?

“A few people know I am friedricebucket because they’ve seen my art on Instagram. But there were a couple of times when people knew who I was the moment I introduced myself, which is cool yet somewhat freaky,” admits Yi Teck (left) who has 8,600 followers on Instagram.

Since his creative Lee Kuan Yew portrait drawn with over 18,000 repetitions of the late Singapore founding Prime Minister’s name went viral, his popularity has soared. He has received more portrait commissions, and, most recently, displayed his work at a travelling Lee Kuan Yew exhibition around Singapore, where he signed autographs for over an hour.

Yi Teck, who plans to pursue a major in animation, says he’s bent on learning as much as he can in his four years at NTU.

“This is my first time studying art, as I had always been in the science stream. It’s very refreshing to be at a design school where I can interact with peers who share my passion,” he says.

For national basketballer, Russel Low (below left), he took a gap year to be a full-time athlete and only enrolled this year.

“It has always been my dream to be in the Singapore Slingers, so I’m really happy. As a full-time athlete, I was training at least five hours a day, not including our workout sessions. It was very tiring but extremely rewarding, as I got to do what I love every day.”

In just one and a half years, Russel has played in more than 20 games for the Singapore Slingers, and countless games for the national team. His biggest matches include the recent 2015 SEA Games and the Youth Olympic Games.

The 1.92m Nanyang Business School student says he picked NTU for its top business school. “I was really drawn to the possibility of getting my honours degree in three years,” he explains.

Although Shanice (below), a first-year communication student, made it to the top eight of the national singing competition, her goal remains simple: to perform. “Just being able to perform in front of an audience is good enough for me,” she says.

Word of her singing prowess has already made its way around the music circuit. She has had offers to join female bands, been invited to perform at community events and even been approached for a role in a short film.

One of her upcoming gigs, as she excitedly informs me, is for the homecoming party at the Wee Kim Wee School of Information & Communication. The aspiring performer already had her chance to shine in front of a large crowd, when she sang on stage alongside fellow contestants at NTU Fest.

For her, pursuing communication studies in NTU was a no-brainer: “The school has a good reputation and I liked that students are given lots of opportunities for hands-on work in the industry and related fields.”

Another lyrical freshie, who made headlines for his Singapore-centric song Sixty Five, is Nanyang Business School’s Joel Tan (below), better known as Gentle Bones.

He shot to fame in late 2014 with his debut single, Until We Die, which topped the local iTunes charts within a day of its release.

His follow-ups, Elusive and Save Me, did just as well, as did his eponymous EP. Sixty Five, which he wrote for the SG50 film, 1965, also topped the iTunes chart.He will also be releasing his second EP later this year.

Despite so much happening in his music career, Joel decided to plunge head into his school because he knows what he wants: a degree.

“I’ve just completed National Service…Then I go to Nanyang Technological University’s Business school – business because I want a general degree. I don’t know yet what I want to do in the future,” he said in a previous interview.

With an Asian tour with American singer Kina Grannis underway this September, it will be difficult to spot him hanging out on campus, but rest assured, he will continue to keep his fans updated on his social media accounts – all four of them. We even hear there’s a clothing line in the works. Hat’s off to you, Joel!