Studying theatre provided a safe space for catharsis for Mr Nur Hazeem Abdul Nasser when he was in junior college.
The Anglo-Chinese Junior College alumnus began his first year there mired in despair and uncertainty.
His father, now 60, had then just undergone major cardiovascular surgery and required the care of Mr Nur Hazeem and his family.
"He was my inspiration whenever I worked. Knowing that his health was compromised did dampen my spirit," he said.
Mr Nur Hazeem, now 19, also admitted that the experience compounded the stress of junior college life.
Enter ACSian Theatre, the school's drama club, which he credits for reshaping his worldview and relieving this stress.
CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE
Theatre was not merely an expression of my emotions; rather, it became a platform to change my perspective.
MR NUR HAZEEM ABDUL NASSER
"Theatre was not merely an expression of my emotions; rather, it became a platform to change my perspective," he said.
Reminiscing about the time he acted in a school production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Mr Nur Hazeem said he could "relate to the feelings of despair and sorrow" in a death scene.
Simultaneously, he said, the overall optimistic atmosphere of the play galvanised him to adopt a more positive outlook on life.
Mrs Geetha Creffield, 49, his then teacher-in-charge, agrees.
"He approaches new situations with optimism, and this positive and empowering state of mind allows him to make the most of challenges... without fret and, rather, with good cheer," she said.
And Mr Nur Hazeem took on many challenges. Outside of ACSian Theatre, he was a student councillor and served as a grassroots volunteer, where he organised and taught a public-speaking module to grassroots leaders.
In his first year, he also co-founded a non-profit youth organisation called ALittleChange. It is a volunteer resources platform set up to benefit the elderly, youth-at-risk and underprivileged families.
To maximise his time, he studied during his commute to school, as he wanted to ensure that he could commit to his co-curricular activities and volunteer work.
"I would like to remind everyone that inequality in Singapore is real and we have a choice to use the opportunities we are given, to give back," he said.
Mr Nur Hazeem, who collected his A-level results last Friday, intends to study sociology in university, with an eye towards entering the public service. "The acquired knowledge would allow me to fine-tune ALittleChange's response to address social needs and help me gauge societal problems within the public service," he said.