Coming from a family of limited means does not put a limit on one’s dreams.
Take Singapore Polytechnic undergraduate Mikki Chan, for example. At 19 years old, she is an aspiring entrepreneur actively involved in co-founding and running a sustainability-centered startup called Pomona.
Her venture with her peers involves taking bruised fruits, which many consumers would not consider purchasing, and freeze-drying them into preserved snacks.
Beyond contributing to society’s overall sustainability efforts, she hopes to one day start a community for students with limited means, such as herself, to help them realise that they are not alone and that their situation should not limit their potential.
“It will be a community where they will be able to relate to others and realise that they are not lacking in any way – just because they come from a lower-income background,” she shared.
Mikki was one of several students to receive a financial boost to help fulfil their educational needs and fullest potential.
Some 38 students were awarded the Temasek Foundation Union Scholarships on 1 November 2023.
The award ceremony, which was held at ITE College Central, was attended by NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng, along with several union leaders such as Union of Power and Gas Employees (UPAGE) General Secretary Abdul Samad Abdul Wahab and Amalgamated Union of Public Employees (AUPE) General Secretary Sanjeev Tiwari.
The 38 students – from local ITE, polytechnics and universities – were the first batch to receive the scholarship, announced on 25 April 2023.
The scholarships were named after three eminent union leaders: the late G Muthukumarasamy – former General Secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Daily-Rated Workers (AUPDRW), the late RKS Nachiappan – former Emeritus General Secretary of UPAGE, and the late Nithiah Nandan Arumugam – former General Secretary and founding member of the UPAGE.
Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam, the guest of honour at the ceremony, conveyed the significance of the scholarships to the students and their parents.
He said: “The three of them were strong advocates of education and lifelong learning. They worked very hard to improve the welfare and career prospects of low-income daily-rated workers, and they were an inspiration to many.”
Mr Shanmugam also hoped that the recipients would be able to do their part for society, just like the three unionists did.
“Come back and do something for the community. We recognise that doing well in school is a primary thing, but we hope that you will also spend a little bit of time to come back to help the community in some way so that you understand the lives of others too,” he urged.
Meanwhile, the spouses and children of the unionists were also invited to the inaugural ceremony.
A video dedicated to the three unionists was screened, where present union leaders shared their memories of the late leaders and their contributions to the workers in their respective unions.
The family members were also presented with a commissioned art piece as a token of the legacy the three union leaders left behind.
Mikki appreciates how the scholarship will help students such as herself achieve their career aspirations.
She said: “Temasek Foundation’s partnership with NTUC is about making people more employable. I think this initiative is going the right path – it builds confidence for those lacking certain skills and helps them upgrade themselves.
“This scholarship has helped me realise that there really isn’t anything standing in my way. Once I try, I aim for something and put in my effort, then I'm able to achieve whatever I want.”
The scholarships are applicable only to Singaporeans and are awarded based on merit and income criteria. Application details can be found here.