Working life opens her eyes
ITE dropout returns to school to study Opticianry - and now has a 4.0 GPA
Just three months into her Opticianry course at Institute of Technical Education (ITE) in April 2011, she dropped out.
Ms Nor Suhaila Roslee, then 21, would turn up in school only once a week.
"I had zero interest" she said.
"When I was in school, I didn't really pay attention. I just wanted to make friends."
But her peers had cliques and she felt ostracised. And the long journey from her home in Bishan to the campus in Simei further discouraged her.
After three verbal warnings from the school, she was given a choice to continue her studies or to sign an attrition form, where students indicate their intention to discontinue their enrolment.
"I didn't even know what attrition meant. The school explained it to me, but I wasn't in the right state of mind," she said.
She found a job, but during her two years as an auxiliary officer guarding installations, she realised the importance of academic qualifications.
Ms Suhaila, now 26, said: "I was surrounded by degree holders.
"Those with higher qualifications were the ones going places - they had higher ranks, larger job scope and were entrusted with more responsibilities.
"I asked myself, 'Why can't I be like them?' I wanted to go back to school so that I could be like them."
And her colleagues' encouragement fuelled her drive to study.
At the end of 2014, Ms Suhaila resumed her studies in Opticianry - students learn to recommend lens and frames to clients based on clients' styles, colour tones and facial shapes - at her former school, ITE College East.
The final-year student told The New Paper that when ITE College East offered her another chance, she grabbed it immediately.
In her first interview, she was made to explain her abysmal attendance in 2011.
She was then told to enrol at ITE College Central, which is nearer her home, but she was determined to study Opticianry, which is available only at ITE College East.
Opticianry is a field of study close to Ms Suhaila's heart.
Her sister is blind in one eye and their mother is short-sighted.
"In the second round of interviews, I had to show why I wanted this badly," said Ms Suhaila.
"I told them I really wanted to study and kept asking, 'Will you accept me?'"
One of her interviewers was the section head for her course, Ms Monica Lim.
Ms Lim, 47, told TNP: "I could see she was very sincere. She really wanted a chance to study again."
With a renewed sense of purpose, Ms Suhaila has been attending classes regularly since last year.
The long journey to school has bogged her down once or twice, but she's stuck it out, encouraged by her four siblings.
"They told me not to worry about my age as compared to my classmates and to just study," said Ms Suhaila who scored a 4.0 GPA in her current semester.
"Seeing my ex-classmates graduate from polytechnics also spurred me on."
Ms Suhaila hopes go on to pursue Optometry at a local polytechnic.
"Those with higher qualifications were the ones going places - they had higher ranks, larger job scope and were entrusted with more responsibilities. I asked myself, 'Why can't I be like them?' I wanted to go back to school so that I could be like them."
- Ms Nor Suhaila Roslee