SINGAPORE - Ms Nur Fadzleen Niza Mohd Arriffin, 27, is not your typical government scholarship holder.
The outreach officer at National Parks Board, who was on Friday (July 21) awarded an overseas merit award to study environmental studies in Australia, spent two years studying at the Millennia Institute but failed to complete her A levels.
Spurred on to do better, she went on to enrol as a mass communication student in Republic Polytechnic – and graduated as valedictorian.
Ms Nur Fadzleen, who is married and has a five-month-old son, has been with NParks for five years.
She said: “I feel I am at the right stage of my life where I can pursue my studies; I feel I have settled down. I still need to improve my knowledge of the environment – that’s where this degree comes in.
She is one of nine existing officers who received Ministry of National Development Executive Development and Growth Exchange (MND Edge) scholarships on Friday (July 21).
A total of 48 people, chosen from 2,584 applicants, received MND Edge scholarships at a ceremony. Thirty-six of them received the awards in the undergraduate category, eight in the posgraduate and four were overseas merit scholarship recipients.
Addressing the scholarship recipients at the MND Auditorium in Maxwell Road, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said: “Today, we are at a new phase of development. There are many new challenges ahead, but also opportunities to improve what our pioneers have left us.
“We are thinking about how we can build even better HDB towns... and how to enhance our City in a Garden. How do we prepare for the impact of climate change – rising sea levels, and increased temperatures?”
Mr Wong also stressed that education was all about “cultivating a deep mindset of lifelong learning”. “Anything you learn in school will be outdated three, four, five years later,” he added.
And scholarship recipients should also continue to work hard, he said, noting that the scholarship does not guarantee future success.
Mr Wong said: “I know many young people are concerned about work-life balance, but work is also what gives substance and meaning to life, a mindset you find in our pioneer generation.
“Is work just a job that comes with a pay cheque every month, or do you regard it as a calling to a higher purpose?”
The MND Edge scholarship programme is a talent development project by MND and its statutory boards.
Recipient Bai Sin Yeou, 19, who will join the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority after graduation, will be reading environmental studies at the National University of Singapore.
Passionate about local farming, she grows her own cucumber, tomato and chilli.
She said: “I’ve always been intrigued about growing your own vegetables in your own backyard... If we keep relying on imported food, it’s hard to say when the imports will stop. We have to help our local farmers.”
Mr Lee Yuchong, 20, whose scholarship is tied to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, will be studying urban planning at an overseas university.
He said: “Urban planning is a powerful tool to build a closer community.”
The scholarship recipients will join MND and its statutory boards after they graduate.