Prison psychologist among 258 MHA scholarship, sponsorship recipients
Prison psychologist and narcotics officer among MHA scholarship and sponsorship recipients
His persistent refusal to participate during group rehabilitation sessions did not deter her from trying to reach out to him.
Ms Priyathanaa Kalyanasundram - a Singapore Prison Service (SPS) psychologist - persevered for four months before the offender began sharing his issues.
Ms Priyathanaa, 30, told The New Paper: "He had difficulties trusting others as he never had good relationships. He resorted to sex and drugs to cope with stress and past traumas.
"When he saw that we did not give up on him, he started gaining trust and felt it could be worthwhile investing in the process for his benefit."
The offender later even became a role model to other offenders, sharing his experiences and insights with them.
This dramatic transformation in 2018 left a deep impression on Ms Priyathanaa, who has been with SPS since 2015.
Part of the operational psychology branch, her responsibilities include conducting psychological interventions for male and female offenders with mental illnesses or who have committed sexual or violent offences, and using psychological research and knowledge to develop evidence-informed initiatives for the department.
Ms Priyathanaa was among 258 Home Team officers awarded Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) scholarships and sponsorships to pursue degree or postgraduate studies at local or overseas universities, in a virtual ceremony yesterday.
Ten officers were presented with the MHA Book Prize.
Ms Priyathanaa will head to King's College London in September to pursue a master's in clinical forensic psychology.
She said: "I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the psychosocial origins of distress. This will enhance my assessment and intervention skills and help me contribute to the bigger goal of keeping Singapore safe."
During the ceremony, Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo said one way MHA continues achieving mission success amid manpower constraints is by investing heavily in a strong workforce.
She said: "We are only able to enjoy public trust in the Home Team because our officers perform their roles objectively, with integrity. We must continue building a stronger workforce, anchored on excellence and professionalism."
Central Narcotics Bureau's (CNB) Senior Staff Sergeant Jeff Chia, 34, was one of 75 officers who received the MHA Study Award.
He is an exhibit management team officer who manages drug and non-drug exhibits submitted for investigations.
The award provides some reimbursement of course fees for his part-time degree programme in cyber security and forensics and computer science, which he pursued at Murdoch University at Kaplan between August 2018 and May last year.
During the course, Senior Staff Sgt Chia faced several setbacks. He first received news that his mother had contracted a flesh-eating bacterium that saw her hospitalised for three weeks.
Not long after she recovered, she was diagnosed with marginal zone lymphoma.
A few months later, his father suffered a minor heart attack.
As his parents were unable to work, Senior Staff Sgt Chia became the family's sole breadwinner.
He said: "It was a challenging time as I had to balance night classes with work, caring for my parents and household chores.
"But I was motivated to do well to repay the support my parents had given me."
His parents, who are in their late 60s, are now healthy and have since returned to work.
Senior Staff Sgt Chia is grateful for the study award which has eased his family's financial burden, allowing him to focus on applying the knowledge he gained from his degree programme.
He said: "With a better understanding of how coding works in the back-end of our case management and investigation system, I have been able to provide feedback to the system developers to improve the user experience for other CNB officers. "