One of Edwin Koo’s most memorable moments in school came when he was named valedictorian in his final year at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.
“To me, that was a great honour and a vindication of my student life,” he said.
The 37-year-old photojournalist was bestowed yet another honour when he was one of eight Nanyang Technological University alumni who was presented with the Nanyang Outstanding Young Alumni Award at the annual Nanyang Alumni Awards on Oct. 17. The award is given to NTU graduates under the age of 40 who have excelled in their chosen field.
Koo was recognised for his contributions to the field of photography. In 2011, he founded CAPTURED, a creative agency and photography collective that helps young photographers pursue their passion. The following year, he received Singapore’s most prestigious photography award, the Icon de Martell Cordon Bleu.
Another WKWSCI alumnus, local actress Joanne Peh, was one of six recipients of the Nanyang Alumni Achievement Award — an award that honours alumni who have gained national standing due to the significant contributions made to their chosen fields.
On top of the alumni awards, WKWSCI founding dean Professor Emeritus Eddie Kuo and part-time lecturer Tim Clark were two of more than 100 pioneer educators honoured at the event as part of the nation’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
"This award means the mindset could be changing and hopefully it paves the way for a new wave of talent who will come into this brave new world (of the arts)."
More than 2,000 alumni and guests attended the homecoming ceremony at the Nanyang Auditorium, which was graced by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing and Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck, who received the highest honour of the night — the Nanyang Distinguished Alumni Award.
For Koo, receiving the award meant NTU — traditionally a university renowned for its achievements in technology and engineering — is giving more recognition to graduates from the field of the arts.
“I feel gratified that they are recognising somebody in the visual arts as photography is not one of the more recognised career path for somebody who graduated from NTU,” said Koo, whose works have been showcased at international exhibitions around the world, including the 2009 Lumix Festival for Young Photojournalism in Germany and the 2012 Dali International Photo exhibition in China.
“This award means the mindset could be changing and hopefully it paves the way for a new wave of talent who will come into this brave new world (of the arts).”
Meanwhile, local actress Peh, who was still an undergraduate when she launched her acting career, was recognised for her meteoric rise to stardom.
Peh landed her first acting role in “Beautiful Connection,” a 2002 Chinese family drama serial, after winning the Miss Elegant and Miss Personality titles at the Miss Singapore Universe beauty pageant in the same year. Since then, she has become a household name in the local television scene. At the 2009 Star Awards, Peh clinched Best Actress for her part in the critically acclaimed Chinese drama “The Little Nyonya.”
Kuo, founding dean for the then-named School of Communication Studies from 1992 to 2003, said, “As founding dean for 11 years, I am grateful for the recognition."