Shermaine Ng worked part-time for 2½ years. And at one point was even doing community service every day while juggling her schoolwork. But that did not stop her from achieving GCE A -level results to celebrate.
The 18-year-old former Raffles Institution student was “overjoyed” when she found out she scored As in physics, chemistry, history, mathematics, project work, mother tongue and a C for the general paper.
FIRST JOB IN SEC 2
Shermaine is the middle child in a family of five and her parents have struggled financially due to the volatility of the construction business. So, she started working at McDonald’s in Secondary 2. “When I first realised I had to work, I was more excited than scared because I wanted to pull my weight in my family’s financial situation,” she says.
Since then, she has held five different part-time jobs including helping out at her parents’ business. At one point, she held two jobs – at a fast-food joint and waitressing at Conrad Hotel. “My grades started to slip as I couldn’t keep up. I was failing maths and chemistry and was barely passing physics in secondary school,” she recalls.
FRIENDS AND TEACHERS SUPPORT HER
Initially, she felt “embarrassed” and “alone” but after opening up to her friends and teachers, she received a flood of support. “It was really heartwarming to see my Odyssey of the Mind (OM) teammates willing to take on more of the work to let me focus on my studies since I’m not the only one with problems,” said Shermaine. OM is an international creative problem-solving competition.
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HELPING KIDS IN NEED
Despite her own struggles, Shermaine has always been passionate about community service. It was working with children in her secondary school days that made her realise how much untapped potential these children had.
One of her most memorable and formative experiences was a five-day service learning trip to Cambodia in 2014. She helped out in the building of classrooms and teaching local children English. “We are so often caught up in our lives with school and families but community service is a constant reminder that I’m incredibly privileged to have a supportive community behind me,” she says.
The desire to do more has led to her decision to pursue her passion for service in a professional capacity. She has applied for scholarships at the Public Service Commission (PSC) and at the Ministry of Health to study occupational therapy in Australia or Dublin, Ireland. Wherever she may study, one thing is clear. She is determined that everyone will have the same kind of supportive community that helped tide her through her difficulties.
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.
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