SINGAPORE - 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.
The younger Ms Ong said: "Whenever she came back from a ship, she would show me photos of all the places she had climbed over, all the things she had seen. She really inspired me to take this route."
Alissa is currently in her second year of Maritime Studies at Nanyang Technological University, while Angelia completed her Diploma in Maritime Business at the Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA) in Singapore Polytechnic this May, and will pursue 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 on Thursday night, the highest amount given out to date under the two programmes.
Of these, 38 were MaritimeONE scholarships, sponsored by various industry players such as shipping lines, shipyards and maritime ancillary service companies.
Twenty Tripartite Maritime Scholarships (TMSS), managed by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, were also given out to students pursuing seafaring careers, almost double from the year before.
Speaking after the award ceremony at Conrad Centennial hotel, Singapore Maritime Foundation chairman Michael Chia said: "We need to look at having a continuing pipeline of young blood into this industry.
"There's always a shortage of good people in this industry and it takes a long time to develop the talent needed. It's a long process."