Thinking of furthering your studies? Draw inspiration from this group of people who are walking the talk.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF EILEEN TOH|
With the dawn of a new year, many people inevitably start thinking about resolutions and goals. How about giving pursuing higher education in 2011 a thought?
I WANT MY DEGREE
Erika Liana enrolled to study at SIM-RMIT for the Bachelor of Business (Marketing) in 2010 because the 21-year-old knew that “… it is essential to have a degree if I want to move on further in my career in Singapore.”
Now a full-time student, Liana spends her weekdays either in school or studying at home. Leisure activities are reserved for the weekends only. For young people in a vibrant city like Singapore, a variety of activities beckon and distractions are aplenty. But Liana realizes that she has to make sacrifices, and she finds it all worthwhile when the results are out. “It is very fulfilling to know you have done well,” says the hardworking young lady, who has just gotten two distinctions and one credit for the three modules she took in her first semester.
Although it has been a challenge making friends in the university, and much of her schoolwork has to be done on her own, Liana’s family provides the strength and support for her to press on diligently.
“My parents work very hard to pay for my education. This is what keeps me going on,” says Liana, who spends much of her time with her family at home after dinner, or studying together with her two younger siblings.
So what does she have to say to those who are considering whether or not to further their education in 2011? “Pursuing a higher education is not easy but with determination and early preparation, you can do well. There’s also a need to consider finances, whether to continue working while studying, or to put aside time to concentrate on your studies.”
WE’RE NOT STOPPING TILL WE GET OUR MASTERS
The quest for education can be a journey that takes longer than one thinks—because the knowledge you gain opens your eyes, helps you tap into a bigger world, and the personal development you experience makes you want to go on for more.
That was what happened with Eileen Toh and Glordia Goh, both pastors in City Harvest Children’s Church. Having been inspired by A.R. Bernard’s message to upgrade oneself, they decided to take up a three year part time degree course in Early Childhood and Family Education in 2004. Then, barely a year after they had obtained their degrees from Edith-Cowen University, the both of them went on to do their Masters in Early Childhood Education offered by the University of South Australia, graduating after two years in 2009.
“It had been 10 years since my GCE ‘A’ levels, and although I had obtained a diploma from the School Of Theology, I decided to take up the degree and masters courses in order to be more effective in my work in Children’s Church,” says Toh.
Demands from work were very high as the Children’s Church grew in size and major events were held each year. Demands from their course were no less as Toh and Goh had to hand in assignments and project work, as well as participate in practical studies on-premise.
Sacrifices had to be made—including sleep. But both agree that their pursuit for higher education was highly rewarding, and going through it together provided the strength and encouragement needed to go on.
“It was the toughest time in my life. Having Pastor Eileen as my classmate helped me to have balance as she would drag me out for much needed rest and relaxation,” recounted Goh.
It was a journey of sacrifice, discipline, and much hard work. Yet, both pastors have gained tremendously in their professional and personal lives.
“Besides the knowledge gained, which was very relevant to our work, we also benefited from the experiences shared by our classmates,” says Toh.
“I didn’t stop serving God, and that is where I got my encouragement from. And as I honor God, He honored me in return—by His grace, I scored an overall average of distinction, and even had my art work displayed at the graduates’ exhibition,” shares Goh.
For those who are thinking if 2011 is the right year to go for further education, they have this to say, “Just do it—there’s never going to be a perfect time!”
|PHOTO COURTESY OF GABRIEL NG|
I WANT MY SECOND MASTERS
If you have been considering that part-time Masters course for years, take a leaf from Gabriel Ng, who is currently doing his second Masters course. And he is doing it while juggling a demanding job in a multinational corporation, as well as adjusting to new responsibilities as a father of a three-month-old baby.
Having obtained a Master of Business Administration from the University of Adelaide less than two years ago, Ng decided to enroll for the Master of Commerce (Accounting) course with the Ngee Ann-Adelaide Education Centre in 2010.
“I’m motivated by a thirst for knowledge, and the greater career prospects which come with further education. It’s not easy but I’m encouraged by Pastor Kong’s messages to always improve oneself,” says the 31-year-old.
The biggest challenge Ng faces is the lack of time. As a credit risk analyst, his job takes up a lot of his time, with long hours in the office being the norm. Yet he has numerous assignments to complete with tight deadlines, and once a month, he has to spend the entire Friday evening, as well as the whole of Saturday and Sunday attending lectures. The arrival of his baby girl means even more time is required of him. So how does he do it?
“What keeps me going first and foremost is God. Next comes my family, and thirdly, I’m driven by my personal aspirations,” says Ng, who credits his wife, Shirley Han, for being very understanding of his time commitments, especially when he has to complete assignments.
So what advice does Ng have for someone wanting to take up part-time studies? “If you are financially able, with a stable job, and can manage time well, you should just do it!”
I WON’T STOP LEARNING
“Lifelong learning” is a term personified by Billy Lim. At 79 years old, the long retired accountant enrolled into the SOT in 2010, becoming the oldest student in the school’s history. Why does “Uncle Billy,” as his much younger schoolmates affectionately call him, want to study at an age when most would (want to) be just watching the days go by?
“My son encouraged me to go for it. My cell group members also encouraged me because I was always asking questions and wanting to know more about God,” says Lim.
Although it was only a six-month course, it was challenging for the octogenarian, who had to travel from Chai Chee to Jurong West to attend classes. He is grateful to his fellow classmates who would give him a ride whenever possible, but he is also proud to say that he has gained independence after having to take public transport on his own many times, which is a journey that took close to two hours each way.
“Interest and passion drove me on. God gave me strength, and with Him all things are possible. I never fell sick the entire six months of the course, even when I was caught in the rain a few times!” Lim recounts triumphantly.
Always the last to leave the classroom so that he will not miss out anything, Lim has a personal motto which many of us should learn from—“I want to go forward, never backward. I want to expand my boundaries!”