SINGAPORE - When Ms Rina Evianna, 29, was growing up, all she ever dreamt about was finding a job in the aviation sector.
After graduating from university in 2015, Ms Rina landed a coveted job with Singapore Airlines (SIA) as a stewardess. Her dream had come true.
But just two years into her contract with SIA, she suffered a debilitating back injury that forced her to resign after she could not cope with the gruelling physical demands of being on her feet for long periods while flying.
"I suffered a slipped disc and had to go for intensive physiotherapy, so I decided to make the tough decision to quit and focus on my health," Ms Rina said.
While disappointed, she was determined to remain in the aviation sector. After taking time to heal, she soon found a job as a customer service specialist with the International Air Transport Association (Iata). She also took a part-time diploma course to upskill herself during this period.
On Wednesday (May 4), Ms Rina received a Specialist Diploma in Aviation Management from Republic Polytechnic (RP), which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
It marked its 17th graduation ceremony with the biggest graduating cohort of Continuing Education and Training (CET) graduates to date at 958, its spokesman said.
This year's graduating class consists of a total of 4,477 students.
Ms Rina, who is one of the CET graduates, was retrenched by Iata in December 2020 due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, and now works as a manager in the public sector.
But she plans to either pursue a part-time degree in aviation management or a business management course, and is open to new opportunities emerging from the aviation industry, especially after border restrictions in Singapore were eased further on April 1.
Ms Rina said: "I want to upskill and put myself in a position to make a strong contribution to Singapore's aviation industry. I know it's taken a big hit, but it is temporary. It will get back to what it was," she said.
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing, who gave the keynote address at RP's School of Engineering graduation ceremony on Wednesday, reiterated the importance of lifelong learning.
"Be open to learning new skills and make the best use of resources and opportunities available for continual learning," he said.
Encouraging the graduates to pay it forward, Mr Chan said: "As you go on to take on different job roles, continue to live your best and always find ways to make a positive impact to those around.
"Your diploma is but the foundation to scale to greater heights. Your diploma will not define your entire life, your continuous efforts beyond your diploma will."