Number of female recipients for Mindef, SAF scholarships doubled from a decade ago

Midshipman Audrey Tey, 19, is one of three female recipients of the prestigious SAF Scholarship.
Midshipman Audrey Tey, 19, is one of three female recipients of the prestigious SAF Scholarship.PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - She is one of three female recipients awarded the prestigious Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) scholarship.

And being a female in the Republic of Singapore Navy, which has a predominantly male environment, intimidated Midshipman Audrey Tey, 19, at first.

"It's not conventional for a girl to join the military. As a female, males might doubt your ability and potential, but you must stand your ground and prove yourself," she said.

Out of the 84 Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) scholarship recipients this year, 22 are female.

Three of these 22 female scholarship recipients were awarded the prestigious SAF Scholarship, widely recognised as second only to the President's Scholarship.

Past recipients included Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

There were nine recipients of the SAF Scholarship this year.

The number of female recipients of Mindef and SAF scholarships this year has doubled from a decade ago, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at the scholarship ceremony held at the Istana on Friday (July 20).

Midshipman Tey, a former Victoria Junior College student who intends to study psychology in the United States, has been a midshipman commanding officer in the Republic of Singapore Navy for three months.

She enlisted in January this year, and will commission at the beginning of next year.

"When I was uncertain about whether I could excel in the military, my mother, who is a single parent, would encourage me and tell me that if this was what I really wanted, I should work hard for it and I would be able to achieve it," she said.

She added that she learnt the foundations of being a sailor, such as how to drive a ship, as well as go through theory lessons on how weather and wind will affect ships, for example.

"To prove myself, I had to be a good leader who cares about the people under me. You have to understand their needs and focus on the task at hand, and you have to balance these two."

Miss Keloth Sonia Nair, 19, is another female recipient who is getting the Defence Merit Scholarship, which is awarded to individuals who will be groomed to be a major contributor to defence policies and more.

She comes from a humble family background. She lives in a three-room HDB flat and her mother, had to quit her job to take care of her when she was in Primary 1.

Her father, an IT project analyst, is the sole breadwinner.

While in secondary school, she took an interest to social issues and public policy, which inspired her to apply for the scholarship.

The former National Junior College student said: "I feel very lucky and grateful to Mindef for giving me this opportunity.

"Our background shouldn't determine where we will go and Mindef is giving a helping hand and telling us there is an opportunity, to help us to get to where we want to go, without having our background be a deterrence."

She will be studying biological science in the Nanyang Technological University next year.