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Choosing a scholarship for a purposeful career in serving the community

By Rachel Ng

During the peak of Covid-19 last year, Ms Jessica Tan, 27, had her hands full planning and coordinating operational exercises at the Tampines Central Constituency Office. 

Having a short turnaround time to carry out these exercises was stressful, but she sees it as a great learning experience.

“The pandemic has shown us that change can happen in an instance. Even though it’s necessary to plan ahead and identify potential issues, we also have to be adaptable and think on our feet,” she says. 

As a deputy constituency director at People’s Association (PA), she recruits and works with grassroots volunteers to plan activities and programmes for residents in the constituency. 

Last April was hectic as she was involved in processing and vetting applications for the Temporary Relief Fund – one of the government’s Covid-19 grants to help Singaporeans who had lost their jobs or a substantial portion of income due to the pandemic. 

As online applications were not yet available, residents had to come to the community centre to apply for the fund. There were hundreds of applications daily and nearly 1,500 on one of the busiest days. After the community centre closed at 10pm, she and her colleagues stayed back to process and manually key in the forms submitted during the day. 

Under the month-long SGUnited Buka Puasa initiative held last year, Ms Tan helped to distribute free meals to healthcare workers, their families, and those in need, during Ramadan.

She recalls that many residents collected food on behalf of their neighbours and friends who were unable to do so themselves. Volunteers took the excess food packets and walked around the neighbourhood to distribute to residents.

Seeing Singaporeans come forward to help one another selflessly in times of need is what keeps Ms Tan going. 

“I feel heartened to witness such acts of kindness and see Singaporeans looking out for one another. I hope this kampung spirit will continue to grow in our community,” she says. 


A meaningful career 

Looking out for her fellowmen comes naturally to Ms Tan, who has been active in community service since secondary school.

During junior college, she also gave free tuition to O-level students from low-income families.

Knowing that she wanted a meaningful career where she could positively impact people’s lives, she applied for the PA Scholarship in 2013 and went on to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) at the National University of Singapore. 

“PA’s vision resonates with my wish for Singapore to become a great home with a caring community,” she says. 

Since joining PA in June 2017, she has had stints in other divisions in both headquarters and at the constituency office. One key highlight was contributing to developing PA’s strategic plan for the next five years in an inter-departmental workgroup.

She hopes to continue contributing to Singapore’s social capital through her role at PA.

To those considering the scholarship, she says: “To fully reap the benefits that the scholarship can offer, it is important that you have the passion to serve the community and work with residents from all walks of life.” 

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