Public Service Commission (PSC) Scholarship awards

Grateful for the chance to give back to society

Public Service Commission scholarship winners Phoebe Shihui Collins and Aaron Rosario Jeyaraj. A total of 71 scholarships were given at the award ceremony yesterday. This year's recipients - who come from 15 different schools such as junior colleges
Public Service Commission scholarship winners Phoebe Shihui Collins and Aaron Rosario Jeyaraj. A total of 71 scholarships were given at the award ceremony yesterday. This year's recipients - who come from 15 different schools such as junior colleges and polytechnics - were chosen from a pool of more than 2,000 applicants.ST PHOTO: DON WONG

When he was younger, Mr Aaron Rosario Jeyaraj would often find his parents - both doctors - leaving home in the middle of the night to check on their patients.

It left a deep impression on the 19-year-old, who hopes to give of himself to others too. The former Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student is now looking to pursue a public service career, and contribute in formulating policies to benefit Singaporeans.

Mr Jeyaraj, who is currently serving his national service, was among those awarded the Public Service Commission scholarship yesterday. He is looking to pursue an economics degree next year.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to contribute back, especially since I feel that Singapore has given so much to me. It has allowed me to pursue my interests in a safe society," he said.

However, it has not been easy for Mr Jeyaraj, who suffered a progressive loss of hearing in his right ear.

The youngest of three children discovered it at the age of 16, after visiting a doctor following an ear infection. Subsequent tests found that he was slowly losing his hearing over time, due to degradation of nerves connecting the ear to the brain.

"Sometimes, having conversations in loud places can be difficult. I have to put a lot more focus when things are being said, to ensure that I don't miss out on anything," he said.

Despite this, the affable teen has not let the condition hold him back from helping others. He even volunteered his services for a year at the National University Cancer Institute in Singapore three years ago.

Together with three friends, they set aside time almost every week to interact with cancer patients, talking about their families and even current affairs.

They also created a small reading corner where those waiting for treatment could browse through books and magazines.

"The experience taught me to appreciate what we have," he said.

"In some ways, having required other people to understand my situation has taught me to think about others' situations as well, and to try and extol the same sense of understanding and empathy."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2017, with the headline 'Grateful for the chance to give back to society'. Print Edition | Subscribe