Boon Kheng joined NUS in 1970 and as a token of appreciation for her long service, she received a painting of the College of Medicine Building, which was the home of NUS Medicine in the 70s. This building was situated in Macalister Road (Sepoy Lines). The community at that time was very small and everyone knew each other, so Boon Kheng had special memories of that place. When she first joined NUS, she supported the Teaching Laboratory and the late Associate Professor Lee Kay Hoon with his research, including a project to discover ways to eliminate fungus in the fuel tanks of airplanes. She fondly recalled that, in those days, the laboratories were not even air-conditioned, but yet the Building still held a special place in her heart.
Recently, we met up with Boon Kheng and interviewed her as she reminisced about her 4½ decades of service with NUS.
Having spent 45 years with the University, what motivates you to go to work every day?
Life as a Laboratory Technologist is never monotonous. There are challenges faced when conducting research in the lab but it is extremely fulfilling to make scientific discoveries. Now I spend more time in an admin role. Learning is a journey. It is still refreshing to acquire IT skills such as using the new LMMS (Lab Materials Management System).
What are some of your fondest memories and proudest achievements during your time with NUS?
In 1992, I was part of a Work Improvement Teams (WITS) in the Dept of Biochemistry. The team endeavoured to lower the costs of frequent replacements to the spectrophotometer’s lamp assembly. Through many experiments, we came up with a solution and had to showcase our findings. Public speaking was not natural to me and it was nerve-wrecking, to present before a panel of judges. Thankfully, I had good teammates who stood by me as I overcame my fears and stepped out of my comfort zone. We devised a solution which reduced the cost by an astonishing 90%. We could hardly believe it when we scored the Gold Medal under the “Experienced” category in the National QCC Convention. The team was also rewarded with a trip to Sarawak. However, it was the bonding and friendship which made the experience significantly more memorable and meaningful.
In 2011, I was the team leader for the Life Sciences Module (LSM 2000) and we won the NUHS Values-in-Action (VIA) Team Award. This award was given out to teams who carried out their duties while exhibiting the NUHS TRICE (Teamwork, Respect, Integrity, Compassion and Excellence) values. We knew that this was a very competitive category. To be one of the top 3 teams, it exceeded our own expectations.
It was a very special and poignant moment when I received the 45 years long service award. It represented a lifetime of personal growth, unwavering dedication, and commitment. While life had its ups and downs, I remained steadfast in my journey with NUS. I am thankful to be part of a wonderful community and for all the friendships I have made over the years.
What advice would you give to your younger peers?
Listen to constructive feedback and continuously seek improvement.