Family tragedies helped housewife find passion
Housewife Liaw Lay Kian was doing some housework one day in 2012 when she finally decided to act on her calling.
The 52-year-old sent an e-mail to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) to inquire about the nursing course and if they would accept mature students.
She received a reply three hours later and two days after that, she was attending classes at ITE College East.
On Tuesday, she received the Tay Eng Soon Gold Medal, which is awarded to the top graduates. Madam Liaw graduated with a GPA of 3.94.
Linette Heng (firstname.lastname@example.org) speaks to the mother of two about her ITE journey.
What made you decide to take up the Nitec in Nursing course?
I cared for my bed-ridden father-in-law for 16 years till he died in 2012 and for my late husband, who suffered from final-stage colorectal cancer. He succumbed to his illness nine months later in 2009.
I’ve grown and learnt a lot in the past 16 years and the experience has led me to decide to be where I am today.
Previously, I learnt on the job, but I wanted to be trained to do more for other patients.
To me, every person is precious. As a Christian, I felt a calling to care for the dying and to make them feel loved and treasured in their last days.
What were some challenges you faced? What was it like studying with students who are younger than your daughters (who are aged 21 and 25)?
I applied to ITE with my O-level certificate. The first lesson was biology and cells and was held in a lecture theatre.
There was no such thing (as a lecture theatre) in my time. I couldn’t catch anything at all. But I knew my goals and I studied even harder than I did when I was a student.
I don’t feel my age and my daughters and I have a relationship like we’re friends, so it wasn’t strange to be studying with younger classmates.
What are some memorable experiences?
I had Gold in my (National Physical Fitness Assessments) Napfa test twice. I just did my best and didn’t train, except during the sports and wellness lessons.
What are your future plans?
I’m working at the Dover Park Hospice and will be pursuing a diploma in nursing at Ngee Ann Polytechnic in October so that I can qualify for a Specialist Diploma in Palliative Care Nursing course.