SINGAPORE - Just a week before her A-level examinations began, Ms Faith See lost a close church friend to a medical complication.
He had undergone surgery for a pre-existing condition and while the operation went well, complications arose days later.
"I was telling myself that I had to study since the exams were coming, but I was just going through the motions. I couldn't focus, but I had no choice. And I kept thinking that there was more to life than studying because life is so short and you never know what will happen," said the former Anglo-Chinese Junior College student.
Her eventual results were "not that bad", she said, and she managed to secure a place at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), where she read information systems technology and design.
She said her Christian faith, family and friends, as well as help from medical professionals, helped her to get through the difficult period of grief.
Ms See, 22, is one of 475 students who graduated from the university this month.
They are the sixth batch of graduates, and 53 per cent of them have either secured jobs or will be working on their own start-ups, SUTD said. Another 20 per cent plan to pursue graduate studies.
It added that the top hiring sectors include information and communication, business and management consultancy, finance and insurance, and research and development.
Ms See has joined DBS Bank's graduate associate scheme, known as the Skill Enhancement Education and Development programme. She secured the position in October last year before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Her current role is as a cyber-security engineer, though she can explore other roles in rotation.
She has been interested in cyber security ever since she watched Zero Days, a documentary on a cyber weapon, in junior college.
"Cyber hygiene is something that many people don't seem to have a concept of. It could be simple things but they get overlooked easily so I wanted to figure out a way to make this more accessible to the community," she said.
She also cited an incident in which her grandmother fell victim to a scam call. "I want technology to be a safe space for people," said Ms See.
Another graduate, Mr Safafisalam Bohari Jaon, who read engineering systems and design, managed to get a place in March in a graduate programme with insurance provider FWD, where he will have a hand in its digital strategy.
"I was lucky to secure the position right before the circuit breaker period in April, so the pandemic didn't affect my job search," said the 24-year-old, adding that many of his friends, both from SUTD and other universities, are still looking for jobs and traineeship options.
Mr Safafisalam, who studied in Raffles Institution, said that giving back to the community is something he feels strongly about.
He said that since the time he was in junior college, he had thought that volunteering was just "something that people did to boost their resumes".
"I gave that as a convenient excuse for not doing it," he said. "But this year, I started doing a little self-reflection. I was thinking that I'm privileged to be studying in a university and when I graduate, I will be giving back to Singapore's economy.
"I realised I was not doing anything directly as a community member, and I decided to change that this year."
He has signed up for a youth mentorship programme with self-help group Yayasan Mendaki, in which he will be a listening ear and a role model to two students from the Institute of Technical Education.