When she was a student at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Ms Nicolette Ng had to work part-time as a tutor to pay the bills.
She taught two or three days a week while juggling lessons and assignments, on top of having to make the daily trek from her home in Punggol to NTU in Jurong West because the 27-year-old could not afford to live on campus.
But all that changed in 2011 when she received the Lim Kim San Memorial Scholarship, a fund that has been helping students from modest families studying languages, linguistics and humanities at local universities since 2006. The scholarship paid for two years of her school fees and provided a book allowance.
Speaking at the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and SPH Foundation annual scholarship award ceremony at the SPH News Centre auditorium yesterday, Ms Ng said: "Without the scholarship, I would not have had such an enriching time of staying in a hall, building new friendships and getting invaluable leadership community service experience."
After receiving the scholarship in Year 2, she was able to cut back on part-time jobs. Ms Ng graduated in 2014 with a degree in English literature.
In March that year, she found a Housing Board shop space, which she renovated into a centre for English and writing. She now has a team of seven full-timers and 40 part-timers, and more than 500 students.
"Firstly, it eased my family's financial burden," said Ms Ng. "Secondly, it enabled me to have a fruitful university life. Most importantly, it helped to know that when I graduated, I had a lighter load and could afford to take some small risks despite my family background." Ms Ng is now pursuing a master's degree in education at the National Institute of Education.