Trio awarded scholarships for people with disabilities
In primary school, Ms Kristina Liu struggled with a visual impairment that caused her to be bullied. At 17, her condition worsened when a speeding van knocked her over.
The accident injured the frontal lobe of her brain, giving her a host of memory, communication and vision-related problems.
She dropped out of school after the accident but returned to education after seven years of therapy and recovery.
Now 30, Ms Liu is among the three recipients of this year's Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities. The other two are Mr Joshua Tseng, 20, who is visually impaired, and Mr Lee Ci En, 21, who has short-limbed dwarfism.
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee presented the awards at the SPD centre near Tiong Bahru yesterday. SPD is a charity organisation that supports people with disabilities.
The bond-free scholarship is awarded annually to students with disabilities who excel academically. It awards $12,000 a year to cover the recipient's university education.
For Ms Liu, the scholarship is the culmination of years of pain and tears.
She enrolled in Ngee Ann Polytechnic to study child psychology in 2011. Last month, she started her course in linguistics at Nanyang Technological University.
"My experiences made me a better and more mature person," she said.
Mr Lee, a third-year political science student at the Singapore Management University (SMU), agreed.
"People stare at me in public because of my stature, and it makes me realise that I shouldn't do the same to others who are different from the norm," he said.
As for Mr Tseng, he has to use a white cane, something that initially made him feel ashamed as he thought it was an admission of defeat.
The first-year SMU information systems student said: "Now I realise it is just a fact of life. The biggest challenge is really myself. I have to come to terms with who I am."