Inspired by sister's accounts of ship visits

Sisters Angelia (left) and Alissa Ong were among 58 students awarded maritime scholarships worth more than $2.6 million.
Sisters Angelia (left) and Alissa Ong were among 58 students awarded maritime scholarships worth more than $2.6 million. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Inseparable from a young age, sisters Angelia and Alissa Ong share many things - a double-decker bed, the first seven digits of their mobile numbers and, soon, careers in the maritime industry.

Alissa, 19, thought at first she might be a teacher, but the colourful accounts that her sister, 21, brought back from ship visits while on a maritime internship changed her mind.

Said Alissa: "Whenever Angelia came back from a ship, she would show me photos of... all the things she had seen. She really inspired me to take this route."

 
 

Alissa is in her second year of maritime studies at Nanyang Technological University. Angelia finished a diploma in maritime business at Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA) in Singapore Polytechnic in May, and will start a degree in maritime business and maritime law at Plymouth University in Britain next month.

The Ong sisters were among 58 students awarded maritime scholarships worth more than $2.6 million, the highest amount given to date under two programmes.

Of these, 38 were MaritimeONE scholarships, sponsored by industry players such as shipping lines and shipyards. The rest were Tripartite Maritime Scholarships (TMSS) managed by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

Singapore Maritime Foundation chairman Michael Chia said: "We need to look at having a continuing pipeline of young blood into this industry.

"There is always a shortage of good people in this industry and it takes a long time to develop the talent needed."

TMSS scholarship holder Ahmad Ridhuan Ali, 18, was inspired by his father, a former ship captain, to take the diploma in marine engineering at SMA.

He said: "My father would tell us all sorts of stories of the different kinds of people he met. Once, he was climbing a ladder and he fell, and his ankle turned 90 degrees. A Japanese crew member came over and helped turn his foot back and, then like magic, he could climb the ladder again."

Unfazed by the danger, he said: "The risk is always there. Ultimately, you decide what you want your experience of life to be."

Olivia Ho

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2015, with the headline 'Inspired by sister's accounts of ship visits'. Print Edition | Subscribe