“Growing up, I learned about serving the community through volunteering activities with my parents,” says Miss Deborah Tan, the 19-year-old recipient of the People’s Association (PA) Scholarship.
Despite her youth, Miss Tan has already participated in countless service activities, helping the community through many initiatives.
As a student at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) or ACS(I), she served as the president of the Interact Club, a Rotary- sponsored service club. “I helped the club to collaborate with the Environment Focus Group to hold a joint flea market to raise funds for community projects and promote environmental awareness,” says Miss Tan. The Environment Focus Group is a student-initiated club at ACS(I), primarily aimed to raise environmental awareness among the school’s students.
She also worked with other executive committee members to expand the club’s scope of service, by establishing a reading programme with the Heart Friends Center as well as a pet therapy programme at Mount Elizabeth Hospital.
Her volunteering pursuits spread far and wide — as a member of ACS(I) Independent Stage, she was able to combine her service and artistic interests into a performance at Jurong Regional Library, which allowed her to bring Shakespeare to the community. She also flew to Guilin, China, for an overseas values-in-action trip where she helped to renovate a village school, conducted lessons and aided elderly villagers with farm work.
She explains: “These activities made me realise how different communities can be served in a broader sense.”
Deepening her understanding
Miss Tan is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts in social anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
“As a course that gives insight into human behaviour and societies, anthropology can provide me with a better understanding of cultural complexities, while anthropological studies can provide a dependable basis for the formulation of policy,” she explains. “I also believe that anthropology, as the study of humans, will further reinforce my passion to serve communities.”
It was this desire to serve the community that led her to the PA scholarship. She explains that her beliefs align with PA’s mission to build and bridge communities.
“I feel that joining the organisation would allow me to pair and develop my passions and skills to serve the Singapore public,” Miss Tan says.
She adds: “As someone with varied interests, I also appreciated PA’s scope of focus on numerous areas like active ageing, heritage and the arts. Particularly, the issue of Singapore’s ageing population is close to my heart as I have many elderly relatives.
“This, along with coordinating weekly home visits to elderly residents with the Dover Residents’ Committee during my time in the ACS(I) Interact Club, inspired me to play a part in supporting active ageing with PA.”
Sense of purpose
As an overseas scholarship recipient at LSE, Miss Tan is bonded to the PA for six years. Her tuition fees are covered and she receives a monthly allowance for living expenses. There are also internship opportunities at the PA during summer breaks to help scholarship recipients better understand the PA so they can serve more efficiently upon returning.
She says: “The scholarship gives me a greater sense of purpose as I go about my university education. Having a clear sense of direction about my future is motivating as it gives even more meaning to my studies.”