This article was first published in Journeys Summer 2018.

Hope, nostalgia, joy, fear, peace, passion, and absolute, unbridled excitement.

For decades now, we’ve watched students at Singapore American School deep dive into their interests and give it everything they’ve got in the unbridled pursuit of passion. From sending an experiment to space to publishing a book, signing on to play a sport at the collegiate level, and even interning at Facebook, SAS Eagles celebrate the pursuit of excellence in every journey.

As the year 2017-18 moved fast and furiously along, many a student touched the lives of the people around them—from offering undying support to being an inspiration for generations young and old. Whether it’s in sports, arts, or service, SAS Eagles embrace the culture of excellence, possibilities, and extraordinary care in all that they do.

Time and again, our students deal with their own set of challenges and continue to wrestle with external critique and internal doubt. They learn pretty early in life to seize as much as possible out of every moment. Every day. The quartet mentioned here are only a few among the many Eagles that walk the SAS halls daily, giving a whole new meaning to the word exemplary.

It is not for nothing that SAS Eagles are known to be relentless in their pursuit of passion that inspires purpose. The road may be rocky. But it is worthy of their commitment. Nothing less for an Eagle.


RUTH JAENSUBHAKIJ, TWELFTH GRADE
THE DO-GOODER

Born in Singapore, her father’s work led Jaensubhakij to New York and London, before her family made their way back home. Jaensubhakij has been at SAS since eighth grade and her name is the first that comes to mind when one thinks of exemplary service at SAS.

Part of the Executive Service Council, Jaensubhakij has spent hours volunteering for a variety of service clubs and initiatives at SAS and elsewhere. “Service, for me, starts and begins at home. My little brother, Joash, has Down Syndrome, so growing up I had a lot of opportunities to interact with special needs children and learn how to help them, which instilled in me this huge love for helping others. No two service experiences are exactly the same, but I learn something new from each one, so it's something that I find continuously intrinsically rewarding.”

Jaensubhakij along with hundreds of SAS students has found herself becoming more aware of her own privileges and opportunities, more sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, more patient and open-minded, and happier and fulfilled in the pursuit of serving the local and global community. What keeps them going are the insightful conversations and meaningful relationships that come out of ] service opportunities—an integral part of service learning.

“I'll be attending college in Boston in the fall, and since it's such a vibrant and diverse city, I hope to get involved in community service through my school as much as possible! I'd love to be a mentor to local middle and high school students or volunteer at a special needs school. I also want to take advantage of service opportunities on campus, whether by becoming a resident advisor or giving tours to prospective students.”

Eventually, Jaensubhakij hopes to make a career out of helping others and solving real-world problems. “As a lawyer, a researcher, or as the head of an NGO, I think service and I will be deeply intertwined for the rest of my life,” says Jaensubhakij.

SHUNGO NAJIMA, ELEVENTH GRADE
THE PITCHER 

The pitcher’s mound beckons. See it. Know exactly what’s coming. Hand on the ball, feeling the laces. Eyes on the catcher’s glove. Over the top at the speed of lightning. The silence is deafening. The arm does all the talking. For junior Shungo Najima, a perfect pitch isn’t only about a strong arm and an accurate throw. It’s about being relentless, playing with honor, and making no excuses on or off the field. Like generations of SAS Eagles before him, Najima’s defining characteristics include unbeatable discipline, jumping at opportunities even when there is no guarantee for success, and putting in countless hours for every worthwhile endeavor. The best players are the best learners, and the best learners are those that love what they do. It isn’t just the key to playing ball. It’s the key to playing the game of life.

We weren't exaggerating when we wrote the copy for the SAS advertising campaign featuring Najima. The boy lives, loves, and breathes baseball.

Najima has been at SAS since seventh grade. The family chose to enroll their children at SAS, knowing that both Najima and his sister Sarasa Najima would grow up in a community where their dreams would be celebrated, and their passions encouraged.

An ace pitcher and self-taught pianist, Najima says, “I am an all-or-nothing kind of person.” He started playing the sport after watching a baseball game in Japan. Dedicating hours every day to perfect that throw, today Najima is a two-year all-tournament pitcher on the SAS varsity baseball team with a string of awards to his name.

Thankful to the opportunities he has received at SAS, Najima dreams of playing collegiate-level baseball.

MIKA MARTIN, TWELFTH GRADE
THE DRAMA QUEEN

It was a middle school play at SAS that offered Mika Martin her first taste of theater and drama. It was all she needed to get hooked to stagecraft. “Since then I have participated in IASAS cultural convention for a total of four years, twice as a drama delegate and twice as a vocal music delegate,” she says.

Martin first moved to Singapore at the age of four but enrolled at SAS only in fifth grade in search of more student opportunities and a larger student body to interact with. Her parents hoped she’d be able to explore interests inside and outside the classroom.

The stage is now her home. “I consider acting, singing, and dancing a part of my identity. These performance arts have affected my development as a person, my self-confidence, and my understanding of people,” she says.

Rehearsing for over 15 hours a week is pretty normal for Martin when preparing for something as big as IASAS cultural convention. “I was working with an ensemble who loved the project just as much as I did. We all wanted to make the show as good as possible and went through challenges, breakthroughs, and emotional discoveries together. I don’t think I could ever explain fully through words how incredible a creative process can be,” quips Martin.

In the last six years, Martin has been the recipient of a variety of awards and honors in big-name music competitions like American Protege International Music Competition, MediaCorp Young Talent Project 2013, Prima Artists Music Competition, and most recently eMuse International Online Music Competition.

The highlights of her time at SAS include playing Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes (2017) as well as Romaine Patterson in The Laramie Project (2015). “Travelling with the Nebraska ensemble and performing at the theater festival was another unique experience. For music, I really enjoyed participating in Jazz Night and Carmina Burana (2015) through the choir program.”

Martin will be pursuing musical theater at the University of Michigan.

KAI SUHERWAN, TWELFTH GRADE
THE LENSMAN

Loud. Political. Creative. This is how Kai Suherwan describes himself. A self-taught filmmaker, Suherwan believes that film is an amazing platform to send a message—for a humanitarian cause or simply to sell a product.

At SAS, Suherwan has benefitted from an open style of teaching, a variety of opportunities for learning, equipment and resources, and courses and clubs that allow students to explore their passion.

“My interest in film started in ninth grade when a friend from Hong Kong showed me the films he was making. I was inspired and soon began exploring the field of filmmaking."

Having worked on numerous film projects, Suherwan has never shied away from dipping his hands into joint projects working on films—editing, lighting, and cinematography—to increase his knowledge and experience in the field.

An active participant in the Film Society at SAS, Suherwan is quick to offer assistance with projects that filmmakers at SAS are undertaking. He hopes to pursue a career in public relations and international affairs. In the near future, Suherwan will be conscripted for fulltime military training under the National Service program in Singapore.

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