23 PSC scholarship recipients moving on with their studies this year

Ms Sundaram Mohan Shakthi (left) and Ms Janika Oh will be receiving the Singapore Police Force Scholarship and the Public Service Commission Scholarship (Engineering) respectively. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SUNDARAM MOHAN SHAKTHI, JANIKA OH

SINGAPORE - When she was just 16 years old, Ms Sundaram Mohan Shakthi learnt that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) is not about "just catching and punishing criminals".

It also focuses on rehabilitating offenders and providing social support to their family members.

And this is a calling that resonated with her.

One night, her family had to call the police on her father. He had a history of being verbally abusive and was raising a ruckus at home.

"We had a lot of officers come down. Besides those who were dealing with my father and giving him a warning, there were other officers dedicated solely to catering to the rest of my family and making sure we were okay," said Ms Shakthi, now 19.

Her parents have since divorced.

"There was this one investigation officer who gave us her personal mobile number and said we could call her any time we needed help. We never did call her but it was the gesture that made all the difference because she went out of her way to offer help."

Ms Shakthi is one of 23 recipients of the prestigious Public Service Commission (PSC) scholarships who are moving ahead with their studies this year.

She has been awarded the SPF Scholarship and will be reading psychology at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, starting next month.

The Public Service Division said that only PSC scholarship recipients who are pursuing their studies in the current year will be announced from now on. Those who have decided to proceed with their studies in subsequent years, such as male students doing their national service, will be included in subsequent reports.

Ms Shakthi said: "I felt that this focus of the SPF (on rehabilitation and social support) was very unique and is something that I want to contribute to in the future."

She said she decided to read psychology because she had a few friends, when she was studying at Raffles Girls' School, who were experiencing anxiety and depression.

"I found myself very concerned for them. I would go home and research on what they were going through to try and better understand them and help them. And that's when I realised that providing emotional support to the people around me was something that was very important to me," added Ms Shakthi, who went on to study at Raffles Institution (RI).

Psychology was thus a good avenue for her to learn how to support others in times of distress, she said.

"There aren't many females who usually get (the SPF Scholarship)... it's a huge privilege and honour to be entrusted with a career in the uniformed service," she added.

Ms Janika Oh performing on the marimba at a concert on April 2019. PHOTO: COURTESY OF JANIKA OH

Ms Shakthi's schoolmate Janika Oh, also 19, will be awarded the PSC Scholarship (Engineering).

Introduced in 2017, the PSC Scholarship (Engineering) aims to develop individuals for leadership positions in the engineering and technology areas of the public sector.

Ms Oh developed a "love for building things" as a child. She also has a passion for music and has learnt to play instruments such as the piano, the erhu, the guzheng and drums.

She will be pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, with remote learning for the first semester starting next month.

She is also planning to apply for a second major in music from her second year.

Having studied physics, economics, mathematics and music at RI, Ms Oh said: "Studying the sciences gives me the logic and thinking needed to solve problems efficiently, while studying the arts gives me an understanding of emotions and a creative outlook on problems.

"So through studying both sides, I was able to be a more holistic person, looking at things from a different perspective and thinking out of the box. That benefited me a lot."

Mr Chan Choon Yong, another recipient of the PSC Scholarship (Engineering), said he is interested in the field of cyber security.

The 19-year-old from Tampines Meridian Junior College will be pursuing a double major in computer science and statistics at the National University of Singapore.

Mr Chan said he hopes to contribute new ideas and spearhead innovations in the area of cyber security.

He added: "I believe that my undergraduate degree... will provide abundant technical experience in these complex fields and many networking opportunities with local and foreign experts."

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