Ask Ms Nurul Asyiqin what her fondest childhood memory is and she will tell you without missing a beat that it has to be volunteering at community neighbourhood events with her mother and three siblings.
Growing up, her family received financial aid under the Ministry of Education’s Financial Assistance Scheme. Ms Nurul was also part of kidsREAD, a reading programme for children from less privileged families that is run by the National Library Board.
Her mother believed that volunteering was a way to give back to the community that once helped them and would take the children to the events she helped to organise at their local Residents’ Committee (RC), Zhenghua-Senja RC.
Ms Nurul recalls participating in painting sessions under a void deck with other kids and helping to set up tables and chairs for Children’s Day and Halloween.
“It was a lot of fun and made me appreciate the events the RCs and Community Clubs/Centres (CCs) offered for residents, as well as the volunteers behind these events who took time off to help out,” says the 20-year-old.
Her positive childhood experience, coupled with a desire to pay forward the kindness shown to her and her family, spurred her on to apply for the People’s Association (PA) Scholarship after her A levels.
“The scholarship creates many opportunities to engage with the community and collaborate with others to create better links between the government and the people,” she says.
Bridging her passion with practice
Ms Nurul is currently in her second-year at Nanyang Technological University, studying in the Bachelor of Communication Studies programme and continues to volunteer whenever she can. She is in her school’s volunteering club and has conducted workshops to teach seniors how to edit photos.
As part of the PA scholarship, Ms Nurul also had the opportunity to do an internship at Zhenghua Constituency Office for two months in 2022. There, she assisted with managing the counter as well as helping residents to book facilities, purchase tickets to events, apply for financial assistance and answering enquiries.
“It was very daunting at first to respond to residents’ calls and questions as they were asking about many things and I struggled to provide relevant information,” she recalls.
However, while learning on the job, she was soon able to handle queries more smoothly. She also found a great sense of satisfaction in being able to help people while interacting with the residents on a more personal level.
Seeing how hard the employees there worked and their tenacity in engaging residents also gave her a newfound appreciation for the job.
Harbouring big plans
Ms Nurul hopes to apply her knowledge of media and communication tools to better understand on-the-ground sentiments and organise events that bring the community together. She believes she can use what she has learnt in her studies to address the different needs within society.
For example, one of her group projects was to help seniors bridge the digital divide. She learnt more about different forms of communication media and which would be most effective in communicating with an older age group, such as choosing traditional print or radio advertisements over social media advertisements.
“PA is a platform that brings people of all ages together,” she says. “A large part involves organising community events and communicating with residents from all walks of life to let them know about available programmes.”
Whether it is helping seniors adapt to Singapore’s digitisation or supporting low-income students with enrichment classes, Ms Nurul is eager to make a difference in people’s lives when she graduates in 2025.
She will take on another internship under PA during her holidays this year, where she hopes to do more work on the ground with one of the local constituency offices or other engagement groups.
“I am open to everything and hope to be more involved in organising projects and programmes,” she says. “I am excited to learn more and look forward to applying my skills.”