Dancing her way into the navy
SAF scholar who studied dance at School of the Arts among this year's batch of President's Scholars
Many people may feel that joining the Singapore navy is a huge leap from studying dance at the School of the Arts.
But not for Midshipman (MID) Allison Tan Sue Min, a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) scholar who received the President's Scholarship with three others at the Istana yesterday.
The 19-year-old said as a young dancer in primary school, she watched a group of dancers huddle nervously backstage before a performance and she was touched by the sense of belonging and closeness.
"I found that same spirit in the navy," she explained.
Her interest in the SAF was piqued after seeing it in a scholarship guide, despite growing up without much exposure to the SAF as she has only one younger sister. She signed up for several engagement events by the SAF.
At the Mindef Experience Programme last June, a speech by one of the commanders left a deep impression on her.
"He came up and said, 'I'm not going to convince you to sign on, in fact I'm going to tell you all the reasons you should not sign on'," she said.
He said if they can look past these reasons and still find the drive to serve this cause, then the SAF is for them, she added.
MID Tan will be studying international relations in a four-year integrated master's programme at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
The other President's Scholars include Mr John Chua Je En, 19, from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Mr Muhammad Dhafer Muhammad Faishal, 19, from Raffles Institution, who will both be pursuing liberal arts in the US.
Mr Chua will be heading to Harvard University, while Mr Dhafer will attend Stanford University. Mr Siow Mein Yeak, Yue, 19, who was from Victoria Junior College, will be studying mechanical engineering at Imperial College London.
Mr Chua and Mr Dhafer said their fathers played a role in their decisions to join the public service.
Mr Chua's father has been running social service agency New Hope Community Services, which helps the homeless here, for more than two years.
"He would go out on night walks at 2am to find rough sleepers," said Mr Chua. "There are so many people with urgent needs in the community and I cannot live for myself."
Mr Dhafer learnt the importance of ground engagement in policy-making after seeing the work done by his father, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Social and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, and the grassroot leaders.
"I learnt from my dad that even though the work is tough... it's really about the purpose you're going in with and the kind of impact on people," he said.
In her speech at the ceremony, President Halimah Yacob said: "Our forefathers helped to build a strong foundation and we have benefited from it. Now it is your turn to play a role in helping Singapore forge ahead for the next 200 years."