Inspiring women of Marsiling celebrated
Miss Sherissa Leow, 20, was just seven years old when her father died in a car accident.
Losing the breadwinner of the family overnight left her, her mother and her two elder sisters struggling to make ends meet.
Finances were so tight at one point that when she was in Secondary 3, Miss Leow and her family lived in a women's shelter as they could not afford accommodation.
Miss Leow, who also worked part-time as a waitress to help with the family's finances, was one of three girls who were yesterday awarded the Marsiling Women's Executive Committee (WEC) Diploma Scholarship at the constituency's early celebration of International Women's Day, which falls on Thursday.
This is the first time the Marsiling WEC is offering such an award for young women from underprivileged families.
Miss Leow, a Republic Polytechnic year-two aviation management student, will have her remaining year of school fees paid for by the scholarship.
Explaining why she started waitressing part-time since the end of her N levels when she was 16, Miss Leow, whose mother is a home baker, said: "I don't want to take money from my mother because I know how our financial situation is."
She works five- to eight-hour shifts on weekends during school term. During school holidays, she puts in five to six days a week.
Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, the guest of honour at yesterday's event, spoke about empowering women's aspirations.
He said: "We want to encourage more of them (women) to contribute, to pursue their careers, their aspirations and be the best that they can be."
Another woman recognised at the event was Ms Noraidah Pungut, 37, a single mother of four. Her children are aged 17, 14, seven and four. She was handed the Outstanding Women's Award - given to inspiring women who have contributed either to family or community - alongside two other winners.
Ms Noraidah had to find a way to return to work after her husband died from brain cancer. She had quit her job to look after him. She sought to improve her skills by going for short courses and is now an infant educator to children from two to 18 months.