SINGAPORE - Growing up in a low income family, Senior Staff Sergeant (SSS) Muhammad Andi Sufian Mohd Shah saw how his father had to juggle two jobs and mother had to work part-time, just to make ends meet.
The 33-year-old was the eldest of three children, and took it upon himself to start working instead of furthering his studies. He joined the Singapore Police Force when he was 19.
SSS Andi, who was fresh out of polytechnic then, said he wanted a job where he could positively impact the lives of others, and so decided to sign on with the police.
"It was not easy forgoing the opportunity to further my studies for the betterment of my siblings," he said.
"But at least in that way, they would not need to tread the same path as me. Instead, they would have the opportunity to focus on pursuing their dreams."
But now, SSS Andi will be able to pursue his own dream of getting a degree, with a scholarship from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
On Monday (July 26), he was awarded the MHA Degree Scholarship to pursue a Bachelor of Public Safety and Security with Minor at the Singapore University of Social Sciences.
The Ground Response Force Officer with the A Division was grateful for the opportunity, and said that receiving the scholarship was a dream come true.
At the annual MHA Scholarship and Sponsorship Awards this year, a total of 258 Home Team officers were given scholarships and sponsorships to pursue degree or postgraduate studies.
Another 10 officers were presented with the MHA Book Prize.
Ms Priyathanaa Kalyanasundram, 30, a psychologist with the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), was presented with an MHA Postgraduate Scholarship and will be pursuing a Master's Degree in Clinical Forensic Psychology at King's College London.
She joined the SPS six years ago, and recalled vividly how she struggled to connect with an offender during her first session with him.
She said the man was a drug abuser who was aloof, got upset easily, and had a hard time trusting her.
But through her dedication and encouragement, he turned his life around and emerged a changed man who became a role model for others, just four months later.
"Seeing his growth was really powerful for me," she said.
"It reminded me that I can really help offenders build certain skills and create certain long-lasting changes for themselves."
She added that she was grateful for the award, and hoped to deepen her understanding and sharpen her expertise by furthering her studies.
Speaking during the ceremony, held virtually because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo congratulated the officers and thanked them for keeping Singapore safe while putting their own health at risk in the line of duty.
"The awards that we are giving out today not only recognise Home Team officers who have performed well, but also recognise officers' potential to contribute even more," she said.
"We encourage all of you to make full use of this opportunity to maximise your learning and exposure. We look forward to you returning to contribute to MHA's mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure."