Winner of two prestigious essay competitions, Victoria Birrell '17
Brenda Whately, Director of Alumni Relations
UWCSEA 2017 alumna Victoria Birrell, now an undergraduate Bachelor of Social Science student at Singapore Management University (SMU), majoring in Politics, Law and Economics has recently won the National University of Singapore (NUS) U@Live 2019 essay competition on the set topic, “Islamophobia: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?” Achieving the top student award for the essay competition that was open to students of all universities and polytechnics across Singapore, she was invited to present her essay and participate in a 30-minute U@Live panel discussion with Mr Edwin Tong, Senior Minister of State for Law and Health, Singapore, Associate Professor Maznah Mohamad, Head of Department of Malay Studies, NUS, and Ms Farah Pandith, former US Government Special Representative to Muslim Communities, at the end of Oct 2019.
This wasn’t the first essay competition win for Victoria. In 2018, beating out 900 entries from over 20 countries and regions, she won The New York Times (NYT) Asia-Pacific Writing Competition Tertiary Category. Her opinion piece on Digital Disruption, asking the question, “Is digital technology disrupting our life and values, or is it creating new ways of living?” was published in the NYT International Edition on 21 May 2019. Interestingly, current UWCSEA student Aashna Singh was a runner-up in the student category of that same competition.
While at UWCSEA Victoria co-founded a TechLife student technology conference organised by students for students at just 12 years of age, where she led an engaging Skype Q&A discussion with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Now at university, Victoria has represented SMU at The Singapore Bicentennial Conference 2019 and was a speaker at the SMU Parent’s Day 2019, where she spoke to 160 parents of their incoming School of Social Science students.
Over her recent summer break Victoria worked as a Legal Intern, a Research Assistant and completed a Cambridge University summer course. She says, ““This summer, I recently completed an internship at Tan Peng Chin LLC where I delved into highly technical research on Labour and Tax Laws, honing my analytical and teamwork skills. I have also completed a rigorous Economics Summer Programme at the University of Cambridge, Girton College.”
Currently, Victoria is leading a four-person student team to help organise the prestigious SMU David R Tillinghast Global Tax Conference 2020 where Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration at the OECD will be speaking. She is also a Student Assistant for an SMU MBA Managerial Economics Course.
We look forward to hearing what Victoria goes on to do from here!
A video of the NUS event can be found here (scroll ahead to 15:38 for Victoria.)
On 20 November 2019, part of Victoria’s winning NUS essay was published in Berita Harian, Singapore mainstream Malay newspaper. The article can be viewed here.