Going back to school was 'risky but rewarding'
His journey to Republic Polytechnic (RP) has been a long and winding one.
After completing national service, Mr Kumara Karthikhad only a Nitec in precision engineering and with nowhere else to go, he immediately went into working contract-based jobs.
In 2012, his father suffered a heart attack. The medical bills forced the rest of his family, his mum and his younger sister, to find part-time work to get by.
Mr Karthik worked, among other things, at a car wash and as a packer, and one job even had him cleaning containers.
He often juggled two to three jobs at once and soon work consumed his life, and he felt lost.
Mr Karthik, now 31, told The New Paper: "I did not see a future with these contract-based jobs, I was sick and tired of it."
A chance encounter with an intern from the ITE working at a private hospital with him changed his life.
He found out there was a fitness training course at ITE College Central and he was still eligible to enrol as a full-time student. His family history of health problems and a year's worth of experience working in the health sector fuelled his desire to make a difference in patient care, and Mr Karthik enrolled in the course the following year.
This time around, he managed to do well enough to further his education at RP.
Currently a second-year health management and promotion student, Mr Karthik still juggles two part-time jobs, one with an events company and another at the Singapore Cruise Centre, to fund his education.
But Mr Karthik is not done yet. He admitted that he would like to pursue either a specialist diploma or even a degree in the health sector.
He said: "Without a doubt, going back to school at my age has been the most risky but also the most rewarding decision of my life."