Dr Luisa Lee,

Professional life

1. Was it your childhood ambition to be a doctor?

Actually, no. I kind of drifted into Medicine. However, I do remember that in answer to a question during the Senior Cambridge (now GCE “O” levels) Oral English exam that I replied that I wanted to be a doctor because that was the only career that I knew how to answer the question that I anticipated would follow, which is, “why?”

2. Why would you encourage the girls to become medical practitioners?

It is a fulfilling profession in which one can contribute to mankind in different realms – be it in public health, clinical practice, teaching or research. But it is demanding and at times requires self sacrifice.

3. How would you advise the girls with regards to their career choices?

It is important to know one’s strengths and weakness – not only in terms of subjects studied but also one’s personality, character, talent and interests. Today there are many more career choices and many new careers come on stream with advancement in science, technology and globalisation.

4. What values are important in guiding your career?

I think integrity is at the top of the list. Related to this is honesty – to oneself as well as to others. Adaptability to circumstances (but not compromising one’s principles) and resilience. Today the latter two are becoming more important because change is occurring at an increasing pace. Empathy and respect is also important – “do unto others as you would them do unto you” – people you work with must be able to trust you.

5. Who is your role model?

I have various role models for different aspects of character and ability that I admired or aspired to emulate. These would include my parents for their pragmatism and non-materialism, one of my former bosses who never spoke ill of anyone and another former boss who was a great mentor to many who are now holding important positions in life.

Schooldays

1. How did you come to study at St. Margaret’s Secondary School?

It happened that my previous school did not offer pure science subjects at Secondary 3 and I wanted to study Science so my parents arranged for a transfer to St Margaret’s which offered these subjects.

2. What value(s) did you learn in school?

In St Margaret’s, the Christian values were very much part of life.

3. Was there a teacher who inspired you?

Mrs Wong Hoe Eng who restarted the Girl Guide movement in the school when I joined, opened up many facets for personal development and inspired me to obtain my First Class Girl Guides badge within the 2 years of guiding – the several proficiency tests that I had to pass have stood me in good stead both in my career and domestic life. I also learned what impartiality means from Mrs Kon who was my Secondary 4 form teacher although she was never my subject teacher.

4. Did you and your classmates ever discuss your ambitions at that age and motivated one another to achieve them?

It is funny that you ask this because I think we were in an era when all we thought about was to pass exams... at least that was my perspective. At that time too, the careers open to us were mainly teaching, nursing, clerical work or go on to pre-university then decide what next. I do not remember discussing anything beyond the Senior Cambridge exams – this is why I say I “drifted” into medicine.

5. Are there memories of your schooldays that you still cherish?

Definitely. My days in St Margaret’s were the best days in my student life as they were fun-filled and enabled me to experience so many different activities. I am glad that my parents were unconditionally supportive and/or not fully aware of how little time I was spending on studying. Being class monitor, member of the Debating team, Netball team, participation in an operetta with our brother and sister schools (St Andrew’s and St Hilda’s), the Girl Guides. The best part is the friendships formed - we still gather for a reunion whenever one of our classmates who has migrated, returns to Singapore on a visit.