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WHO IS SHE? Ms Danielle Hong, 30, writer-researcher at the National Volunteer and Philanthrophy Centre and community activist.


HEN MS DANIELLE HONG graduated from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences with a Honours degree in Sociology, she first interned as a copywriter for a small advertising firm. Opportunities to progress in advertising were scarce, so when a position for a research assistant opened up at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Ms Hong decided to enter academia. That job under IPS’ Society and Identity Cluster started her off on research writing: she co-wrote research papers on integration and multiculturalism. After a year off in 2013 pursuing her Masters in Law, Development and Globalisation of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London on a Tun Dato Sir Cheng Lock Tan Scholarship, Ms Hong became a research associate at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. There, she wrote a working paper on informal youth activism which was published in December 2017. Today, Ms Hong works as a researcher at the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). She also volunteers with Back-alley Barbers, cutting hair for elderly in homes, and has opened up her research and writing talents to non-profits who need help.

Ms Danielle Hong’s 5 Tips On How To Start Changing Society


FIND OUT WHAT YOU’RE INTERESTED IN, and if there’s a community of like-minded individuals. The cross-pollination of ideas will spark off more inspiration.


START SMALL. Even if you’ve never had experience writing or researching, you can attempt pro-bono projects. It’s a good way of building your portfolio, while understanding what your “client” needs.

Tell us about your work as a researcher with the NVPC.

NVPC aims to nurture a giving culture in Singapore, and this involves working with multiple stakeholders such as nonprofits and corporates. My research has to be angled for advocacy, and every component of our events has to tee up

Making The Kindest Cut Ms Danielle Hong (Arts and Social Sciences ’11) takes her passion of social activism to the streets — literally — as a Back-alley Barber and community activist.


KEEP CREATING. The best way to find out what fulfils you is to create your own original works, in whatever form or medium.


USE YOUR TALENTS TO BETTER OTHERS. If you use your skills to advocate for the needs of others, you’re also changing mindsets, and empowering your chosen community.


ALWAYS REMEMBER TO EMPATHISE. Not everyone wants to change the world, but sincerity and empathy can take you a long way in building friendships and networks.

with our values and mission, and it also involved a lot of stakeholder management as the social sector is really about the “social”, after all! You’re one of the first volunteers in a programme called Back-alley Barbers (BAB). What’s it about?

BAB was founded by Cai Yinzhou, the person behind Geylang Adventures and his friends in 2014 (Geylang Adventures is a non-profit that organises social initiatives in the district). They were motivated by migrant workers they spoke to who were forgoing haircuts in order to send more money back home. There were three of them initially, but two left. Yinzhou then recruited more volunteers, and that was when I joined in 2016. We were trained by a professional hairstylist over five weeks, and then thrown into the deep end to start cutting hair! Who was your first client?

Ms Hong, the Back-alley Barber in action


He was a senior living at the Thian Leng Old Folks Home in Telok Kurau. To be honest, it was a stressful blur, as

The AlumNUS Apr - Jun 2018  
The AlumNUS Apr - Jun 2018