Late father is student's inspiration
Singapore Polytechnic gave out its annual Model Student Awards to 22 students on Monday. TNP meets two recipients who excelled despite family tragedies
Mr Vishnucharan Naidu was only 12 when his father died, and overnight, his life changed.
His father, who was an executive at the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), was the family's sole breadwinner.
Mr Vishnu, 20, who studied at St Andrew's Secondary School, was put on the Ministry of Education Financial Assistance Scheme. His mother worked at an infant care centre to support him and his two older sisters.
He worked part-time as a waiter and a packer while studying applied drama and psychology at Singapore Polytechnic (SP).
In 2014, when he was in his second year, he set up theatre group Big Birds Productions.
Mr Vishnu will graduate with a GPA of 3.37 in May.
Big Birds Productions now has five core members and 15 actors, most of whom are SP students. The non-profit group has staged three ticketed public shows.
Last September, the group staged the play Cockfight at Goodman Arts Centre. All three shows were sold out. The play explored the idea of loss and several audience members cried during the play, said Mr Vishnu.
Mr Vishnu now lives in a four-room flat in Serangoon with his civil servant sisters, aged 23 and 28, and his mother, who is now a freelance babysitter.
He said his dad is his inspiration.
"I realised how people change and become better and stronger when they lose someone dear," he said, adding that he has used that theme in a screenplay he wrote.
But setting up a theatre group was not easy.
Mr Vishnu said: "Many people told me I was too young... But the more we performed to sell-out crowds, the more they believed in us."
His older sister, Ms Vishnupriya Naidu, said: "Initially, I wasn't sure if my brother was ready... But he surprised me."
Ms Angela Chua, 22, a speech and drama teacher who is also with Big Birds Productions, said its members look up to Mr Vishnu.
She added: "As someone who has been through the same school curriculum as Vishnu, I find it admirable how he juggles school demands with production work."
Mr Vishnu, who aspires to be a theatre director, said: "I want to educate the public on topics not commonly talked about in society. I want to give a voice to the voiceless."
Many people told me I was too young... But the more we performed to sell-out crowds, the more they believed in us.
- Mr Vishnucharan Naidu