School Advisor Articles

Shaping Futures: Shasha Maria Tan’s Journey from Fairview International School to Professional Success

Published by SchoolAdvisor | Mar 29, 2024

Fairview International School, with its reputation for academic excellence and holistic development, has been a transformative force in the lives of many students. Among them is Shasha Maria Tan, whose five-year journey through Fairview has shaped her into the confident and resilient individual she is today.

“I am profoundly grateful for the opportunities and support I received, which have undoubtedly contributed to my personal and academic growth.”

Studying at Fairview International School 

Shasha found Fairview offered a world of opportunity — a perfect fit for her burgeoning curiosity. 

Joining Fairview in Grade 8 (MYP) in 2015, Shasha initially found it difficult to speak up. However, beneath this shyness lay an adventurous spirit yearning for challenges. The school was pivotal in nurturing her confidence and helping her discover her creative passion, which led her to secure a marketing role in Shopee. Through various opportunities, Shasha gradually found her voice and learned to express herself authentically.

Fairview’s emphasis on inclusivity provided a welcoming environment for Shasha, who, despite being of mixed heritage of Indonesian and Malaysian Chinese and slightly younger than her peers, found a sense of belonging. The school’s diverse student body, hailing from countries like South Korea, Bangladesh and China, fostered a spirit of camaraderie and appreciation for cultural richness. 

“It taught me the importance of embracing differences, celebrating individuality and overcoming adversity,” Shasha says. “I learned to appreciate the unique perspectives and talents that each individual brought to the table. This sense of belonging and acceptance encouraged me to embrace my quirks and imperfections, knowing I was valued for who I was.”

The school offered a unique blend of IB and IGCSE syllabi, equipping Shasha with a well-rounded education and the skills necessary for academic success and personal development. A pivotal moment in her academic journey was the Personal Project, a mandatory component of the IB programme. Inspired by the rich history of feminism, Shasha focused on women’s empowerment and equality. She created a photo book showcasing her creative skills while promoting a powerful message.

“I designed five suits for women of all sizes, symbolising strength and versatility. They challenge traditional gender roles, showing women excel beyond household chores to tasks stereotypically associated with men.”

While at Fairview, Shasha (second from right) and her classmates went on an expedition to China, Xi'an.

Fairview also offered international expeditions, allowing Shasha to step outside the classroom and immerse in real-world situations. From China to Cambodia, she engaged with local communities and delved into their cultures through various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

“During the expeditions, we had the opportunity to visit schools and orphanages to aid in their learning by assisting with basic English or teaching them about Malaysian culture. Besides CSR initiatives, we also immersed ourselves in their culture and historical background by visiting museums, monuments and workshops. For example, during my trip to Thailand, we painted umbrellas and learned the language.”

What’s more, Shasha was also awarded the Duke of Edinburgh bronze award, a compulsory component during her time at Fairview. Participating in this award has taught her to be open-minded and to persevere while overcoming obstacles when learning a new skill

Beyond that, she was also actively involved in sports and served on the student council, striving to create an inclusive and supportive environment for her peers. Through organising events and providing opportunities for personal and academic growth, she worked to ensure that Fairview remained a place where other students felt valued and empowered.

Overall, Shasha’s time there proved to be an eye-opening experience, especially after residing in Thailand for 11 years. Fairview faculty demonstrated unwavering support, organising frequent meetings and events to showcase student achievements. Equipped with facilities like a swimming pool, sports field, theatre hall and dedicated dance and music classes, Fairview provided an enriching environment conducive to student development.

During her expedition to Chiang Mai, Thailand, Shasha had the opportunity to visit schools and orphanages to aid with their learning by helping them with basic English or teaching them about Malaysian culture.

Pursuing a Foundation degree 

Shasha initially considered pursuing a foundation degree at a different college. However, Fairview’s business foundation programme offered A-Level equivalent qualifications and guaranteed admission to reputable universities — factors that, along with her trust in the faculty, made staying there an easy decision.

Through studying the NCUK IFY, Shasha learned to cope with the academic intensity of the programme. This led her to acquire a myriad of skills that are essential and applicable in real life. One such skill she developed is time management, which was honed thanks to the tight deadlines for the coursework in this programme.

The teachers at Fairview had also been pillars of support for Shasha, particularly during challenging times. “My father had a stroke that left him half-paralysed. During this period, I developed a strong rapport with the teachers and admired their teaching methodologies.”

Their personalised approach, with extra lessons and individual consultations, fostered a sense of determination and resilience within Shasha. This, combined with the programme’s emphasis on examinations and coursework, honed her academic and practical skills.

“It also accommodates my visual learning style, enabling me to excel academically and gain acceptance into esteemed universities such as Queen Mary University, University of Reading and University of Kent.”

However, due to her father’s condition, Shasha chose to pursue her tertiary education in Malaysia. 

Getting into University

Fairview played a crucial role in preparing Shasha for the university application process.  From assisting with setting up UCAS accounts to providing invaluable insights into universities for specific courses, it ensured students were well-equipped to navigate the complex application landscape. The guidance extended to essay writing tips and personalised consultations, where students received assistance with scholarship applications, university recommendations and progress updates.

The result? Shasha secured a spot at one of Australia's premier universities, the University of Wollongong (Malaysia campus).

She began her journey at the University of Wollongong with a passion for business but was unsure of the specific path she wanted to pursue. She initially leaned towards a Bachelor of Accounting and Finance, but the programme’s crushing numbers and analytical focus clashed with Shasha’s creative and idealistic spirit. This led her to switch to a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Finance and Marketing. This unconventional combination allowed her to explore analytical and creative pursuits in future career endeavours.

After coming across the position on LinkedIn, Shasha applied and successfully secured a position at Estée Lauder’s finance department.

Fairview’s Foundation for University Life

Fairview’s rigorous curriculum and emphasis on critical thinking honed Shasha’s academic skills. This translated into efficient study habits, smoothing the transition to university-level demands. 

However, Fairview’s influence wasn’t confined to academics. The diverse and inclusive environment fostered a sense of belonging and acceptance in Shasha. Having interacted with classmates from various backgrounds, she developed strong interpersonal skills and an appreciation for different perspectives. This made it easier for her to connect with university peers, creating a rich social network.

“This exposure has encouraged me to approach challenges with an open mind and to consider alternative viewpoints. As a result, I have developed a knack for thinking outside the box and approaching situations with a fresh perspective, which has been instrumental in academic and personal endeavours.”

Landing a Dream Internship at Estée Lauder

Through her university’s internship programme, Shasha gained valuable skills in crafting resumes, acing interviews and navigating the corporate world. Attending a workshop led by Mr Low Kim Keong, a lecturer who always prioritised his students' learnings, proved instrumental, equipping her with the knowledge to confidently embark on her internship search.

Her perseverance paid off when she stumbled upon an opening on LinkedIn for an order-to-cash (O2C) process internship at Estée Lauder’s finance department. The interview process was a breeze, thanks to the workshop’s guidance.

“For this role, I served as the primary support for the O2C Assistant Finance Manager (AFM), aiding in various tasks and ad-hoc assignments related to O2C, Retail Accounting and Master Data across seven portfolios spanning across Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Macau.”

Shasha's current role at Shopee aligns with her interests and allows her to channel her enthusiasm into making a meaningful impact in the field of digital marketing.

While the internship at Estée Lauder provided valuable experience in finance and corporate operations, Shasha’s true passion lies in marketing. Today, she is a marketing associate at Shopee, a leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia.  im

“While my journey to this point hasn’t been without its challenges, I am profoundly grateful for the pivotal role that both Fairview International School and my family have played in shaping my path. Fairview’s commitment to excellence and holistic education has equipped me with the skills, values and mindset necessary to embark on my professional journey with confidence.”