Jack the Juggler
Not one to burn the midnight oil, Jack Ren Cong holds a steadfast belief in being consistent. The CapitaLand-USP scholar has proven that it works as he juggles hobbies, work and studies with ease.
Issue: Jun 2009
Jack (third from right) with Mr Tan Seng Chai, Senior Vice-President, Human Resource (third from left) after being awarded the scholarship at Capital Tower.
"The key to building a towering and magnificent pyramid is not about speed, but about building a base as wide as possible in the beginning," Jack Ren Cong's parents would always tell him.
This piece of wisdom has guided the 23-year-old CapitaLand University Scholars Programme (USP) scholar in his life. His interests are diverse: he is into the arts, dabbles in the sciences, and is keen on business. But his true calling arrived in the form of a book - Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud's "The Interpretation of Dreams."
Keeping the Big Picture
Jack (extreme right) with delegates from other countries at the inaugural ASEAN University Students Conference in Bandung, Indonesia.
The then secondary school boy was scouring the library for "Marketing for Dummies" when he chanced upon Freud's psychology classic instead. Freud's words aroused his curiosity, drawing him into the world of psychology. It became Jack's choice of major at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
"Psychology helps me to build up my base of knowledge," says Jack. "The strength of psychologists lies in our ability to integrate multiple perspectives while keeping the big picture in mind."
During his second year in NUS, he read about the CapitaLand-USP scholarship in an electronic flyer. Extremely keen, he applied for it, made it through several tests and interviews, and was finally picked as the inaugural scholar.
Jack was drawn to the scholarship largely because of CapitaLand's values. "It is heart-warming to know that the company puts a lot of serious effort into society, community and the environment." CapitaLand walks the talk with its preservation of cultural heritage in their developments.
"Cultural heritage is an important part of our lives as Singaporeans," Jack says. "By building new age skyscrapers alongside the preservation of traditional monuments, it actually makes the city more vibrant and alive with contrasts between the new and the old."
The young scholar recently won an award from school in a social enterprise idea competition. He was motivated by the writing of Lord Nicholas Stern, who is the economic advisor to the UK and its queen.
Jack's idea was to refurbish and service recycled computers - free of charge - for needy children. We should do something for the environment, says Jack, as well as society, as both are interlinked.
Jack's zest and thirst for self-fulfillment have also led him to dive into the sporting world. One day he could be swinging a golf club, another day, dribbling a basketball. The former captain of his secondary school basketball team even took on the role of coach when the man left without a replacement.
Jack (left) has translated Cultural Medallion artist Tan Swie Hian's Chinese book on his philosophy of life.
Linguistically, he's a star too. He was approached by the National Heritage Board to translate a Chinese book written by renowned multimedia artist Tan Swie Hian on his philosophy in life. During the course of translation, Jack got to rub shoulders with the Cultural Medallion artist. They met up often, over meals, so that Jack could more accurately decipher Tan's profound sayings, and translate with the right nuances.
Written in the Stars
"I really like things that are mystical as well," Jack shares, "like faith, religion, hypnosis, and astrology." The inquisitive scholar's interests are certainly not limited to those built on cold, hard facts.
On the contrary, Jack and a few friends have been planning to start a new co-curricular activity on campus dedicated to the study of astrology. Jack explains that "having a multi-perspective is a good thing because you get to think of alternative ways to solve things, to get to the same goal."
The group has even roped in an NUS professor, who acts as their informal advisor. The club will probably be launched next year when Jack returns from his upcoming one-year exchange stint in China.
The Journey Thus Far
Jack, who will be heading to China for his second overseas exchange, at the University of Connecticut in 2008 during his first exchange program.
Jack thanks his lucky stars for having landed the CapitaLand-USP scholarship and to have Mr Lai Choon Hung, CapitaLand's Deputy Chief Corporate Officer, as his mentor. He says that Mr Lai shares experiences instead of advice with him, giving the scholar room to exercise his own creativity.
"He'll tell us about the different scenarios, the pros and cons, but with a personal touch to them."
Despite having a finger in every pie, the word 'stress' does not seem to exist in Jack's dictionary. The scholar even manages to hit the sack by 11 pm every night - an achievement for most other students.
"Focus 100%, enjoy what you do when you have decided to do something, or do not even start. Do it once, and do it nicely and passionately - it saves you a lot of time. In this way, we can live life to the fullest without regrets."
Versatile, out-spoken, and yet down-to-earth, Jack has clearly found the right formula to managing life.