My teachers and peers encouraged me to become the best version of myself, and as a result I feel better prepared for whatever decisions I make and career paths I choose. They helped me realise that it was okay to be uncertain; not everything needed to be figured out the day I graduated from High School. The fluid nature of the curriculum offered at UWCSEA allowed me to work seamlessly across the disciplines and helped me see how you can apply skills in the real world."Swar Sahgal ’14, Customised Footwear Designer and Student of Fashion Design at School of the Art Institute of Chicago
After graduation I enlisted into the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) for National Service. I found it such a worthwhile experience, and the relationships I built were so strong, that I extended my stint by an additional year. After that I moved to Chicago to enrol in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I began studying architecture, developing on the technical skills learnt in my Higher Level IB Design and Technology class. I chose this path because I was originally very keen to return to the SCDF after getting my degree, and I felt this would allow me to follow both my creative passion and my passion for the SCDF. My reasoning was that architectural knowledge would give me better sense of structural integrity in emergency cases.
However, after my first semester in Chicago, I decided to transfer into the fashion department so that I can focus fully on my creative interests. This is what I am doing at the moment, and I have become a lot clearer with what it is I want to do, focusing on footwear design and development. I have started up a personal business and brand, with some success in customised footwear design.
My teachers and peers encouraged me to become the best version of myself, and as a result I feel better prepared for whatever decisions I make and career paths I choose. They helped me realise that it was okay to be uncertain; not everything needed to be figured out the day I graduated from High School. The fluid nature of the curriculum offered at UWCSEA allowed me to work seamlessly across the disciplines and helped me see how you can apply skills in the real world. For example, skills I learnt in my Psychology classroom proved to be invaluable on the during my National Service, especially when mentoring my younger peers.
When I studied Design Technology in the IB, it was very research based and the focus was on product design. I have been able to take that apply it to my practice in the footwear manufacturing industry where I am working right now. It gives me a scientific angle when it comes to making decisions about my work in the fashion industry.
I was challenged by my teachers in every task. At the time this was stressful, but I realise now that it helped me build a work ethic and allowed me to focus on doing well for myself, as opposed to doing well just for the assignment. In addition, and very importantly, they also knew how to remain light hearted and made the learning environment enjoyable. This made what was undeniably hard work in the IB Diploma seem more like play. In particular I remember my English teacher Mallika Ramdas, and Carl Waugh and Luke Milburn who taught me DT. My DT teacher in Grade 11 and 12 also taught me in Grade 8 DT, and Grade 9 and 10, and was also my class tutor. Being able to build that strong supportive relationship over the four years of High School helped shape me as an artist and designer.
When I joined UWCSEA in 8th grade [from another international school in Singapore], my student buddy Hugh Johnston had already been at the College for a while. Hugh and I hit it off immediately, and this made the transition into my new, much larger, school environment very smooth and enjoyable. He is still my closest friend today.
For me a better world is one with greater access to education. One of the biggest obstacles when it comes to education is funding and I believe that in today's digital age the greatest thing we can do is share our knowledge in every medium possible for free, so as to give people greater access to information and more avenues to learn.
In the IB Diploma, Swar studied Design and Technology, Psychology, English Language and Literature, Math, Physics and Spanish.