She shocked her parents by joining the Army after A levels
'Girly' teen is no longer 'timid and tiny'
Given Natasha Lum's girly looks and petite frame, nobody expected her to join the army after finishing her A-level examinations last year.
But the 18-year-old reported for her Basic Military Training early this year.
Yesterday, Miss Lum collected her A-level results at Pioneer Junior College. She scored 3As and a B for her four H2 subjects - results that she was relieved to get after fretting the night before.
Still decked in green after booking out from Tekong yesterday, she told The New Paper: "All of us (who were collecting results) couldn't sleep. We were just up and talking about our results."
Her first contact with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) was in June last year, when she attended an SAF tea session with her mother and younger brother, now 17, to suss out scholarship opportunities for him.
Instead, she was the one who decided to join the SAF because she felt like it was her way of giving back to the country.
"There was so much I was grateful for. My parents didn't have anything when they came to Singapore (from Malaysia), but they could slowly build up something for themselves," said Miss Lum.
The best way of giving back to the country "would be to serve what I feel is a core of the prosperity and success of our nation, which is definitely defence", she said.
Another factor was the challenge.
"As we all say, you only live once. Why not do something unconventional?" she said.
Her parents were shocked, but got used to the idea.
"My dad saw me as someone quite feminine... I did explain to (my parents) why I felt it was meaningful... and brought them to as many information sessions as possible."
Her father, Mr Kenneth Lum, 46, who works in the oil and gas industry, said: "Initially, I was very surprised, because to me she's a timid and tiny girl."
But week after week, as she came home sharing stories such as how she threw her first grenade, Mr Lum gradually gave her his full support.