In her first year at ITE College Central as a mechatronics student, Ms Norhidayah Norisham scored a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
But the journey to college has been tough for the 22-year-old recipient of the inaugural Keppel Care Foundation (KCF) scholarship who is now in the final year of her two-year course.
Ms Norhidayah said money was always tight at home, with her family having had to move many times.
When she was in primary school, she began helping her family make ends meet by going door to door to distribute fliers.
By the time she completed her N levels at Canberra Secondary School in 2013, she had become the main caregiver to her six younger siblings. She wanted to continue with her studies but was forced to postpone her plans for three years.
She declined to comment on her parents.
She began working as a crowd marshal and at an indoor children's playground, as well as taking on positions at various events.
RISING ABOVE CHALLENGES
It was tiring to rush from my morning job in Jurong to wherever my next job was. I would have had no time to study.
MS NORHIDAYAH NORISHAM, who, after completing her N levels in 2013, had become the main caregiver to her six younger siblings. She wanted to continue with her studies but was forced to postpone her plans for three years.
"It was tiring to rush from my morning job in Jurong to wherever my next job was. I would have had no time to study," she said.
On Tuesday, Ms Norhidayah received her scholarship at the annual ITE Student Achievers' Awards at ITE College Central. Her family was not in attendance.
She was one of three students to receive the $9,600 scholarship, which is given to those who have shown perseverance and achieved academic excellence.
KCF made a one-time donation of $10 million to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) in August last year. "We believe in improving access to education, thus empowering young people and helping them to maximise their potential," KCF chief executive Ho Tong Yen said of the donation.
The money is aimed at funding up to three bond-free scholarships and up to 72 Keppel Merit Awards - valued at $3,000 each - a year.
Out of the 430 awards given out at Tuesday's event, 379 were for excellence in the arts, sports and other co-curricular activities (CCA) and the rest were Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) awards for outstanding attitude and academic performance.
Ms Tracy Koh, who graduated from ITE College East last year and is now pursuing a nursing course at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, was also among the winners.
The 23-year-old was given the LKY CCA Award for her dedication to leading humanitarian causes and enhancing first-aid knowledge in schools.
In 2017, the former Red Cross member received the Community First Responder Award from the Singapore Civil Defence Force for helping to save the life of a heart attack victim.
Three other ITE College Central students - Ms Nur Amira Mohd Daud, Mr Neo Ming Lun and Mr Nur Shafif Mohd Rasul - received the LKY Technology Award for an invention called the Friendly Crutch.
The ergonomic crutch features a movable handle, allowing users to safely transition from a sitting to a standing position.
It won the trio the Best Project Award at the 3rd International Convention on Vocational Students' Innovation Project last year.
ITE chief executive Low Khah Gek said she was proud of all three students. "They were passionate about developing a good product, and their efforts have paid off."