Student Union president to welcome debate audience

When Kenneth Sng ran for Student Union president last year, providing the welcome at a nationally televised presidential debate was not in his job description. But we certainly don’t hear him complaining.

The president just received official word that he and Chancellor Mark Wrighton will welcome the audience at the presidential debate on October 9, and they will present the candidates with Washington University apparel. He views it as a valuable learning experience – one of many he has had here at WashU.

Kenneth, originally from Singapore, is the first international student to be elected student body president at WashU. He is grateful for the opportunity to represent his fellow students – both at the debate and throughout the year. “I really hope I will be able to do a lot more than just fulfilling the basic responsibilities of my position and give back to the student body,” Kenneth said.

He is excited to get such a close-up view of “democracy in action” during the debate, and to learn from the American political process. “One thing that has surprised me the most is how much the democratic political system in one country can differ from that of another country, even though they all claim the same label.”

Kenneth knows a thing or two about politics in his native Singapore, and he will learn a lot more when he returns home after graduation to start a career in public service. He is one of Singapore’s prestigious Public Service Commission scholars, an honor awarded to fewer than 100 students per year that covers four years of undergraduate education and a master’s program anywhere in the world. The scholarship requires six years of public service after college, but he plans on making it a long-term career.

“I spent six months working in the Ministry of Transport prior to coming to WashU, and I had one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. I met great mentors, made many friends, and felt like I was able to have a meaningful impact on many people’s lives.”

He’ll be well-prepared for his career, equipped with past experiences, economics and math majors, a writing minor, experience serving his peers as Student Union president, and now, the opportunity to represent his community on the national stage. As he said, he’s finding a chance to learn something new with every step along the way.