Name: Chia Yan Min Kimberly
Year Awarded Scholarship: 2015
Scholarship Scheme: PSC Scholarship
Undergraduate University: Wellesley College
Undergraduate Course: Bachelor in Environmental Studies & South Asian Studies
1. Why did you take up a PSC scholarship?
When I was thinking about furthering my education after Junior College, I was concerned about whether I was just diving deeper in the subjects I was interested in without really knowing why I was doing so. While I have always had a deep interest in Geography and the urban environment, I felt the need to use the knowledge gained for a people-oriented cause. In addition, there were many things in Singapore that stirred my heartstrings, such as unjust labour practices and the raw emotion expressed in online vitriol against government policies. A career in Public Service thus seemed a good fit, as it requires me to work with both my head and my heart! Taking up the PSC scholarship also provided the means for me to pursue an education in an overseas institution that is shaping me to engage with a Public Service career.
2. What opportunities for development have you been given as a PSC scholarship holder?
As part of the PSC Scholars' Mid-Course Programme (PSMP), I did an internship at the Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) directorate at the National Research Foundation. As part of the internship, I had to do a scan of the environmental Research and Development landscape in Singapore – a challenging task even for an Environmental Studies major! The internship really opened my eyes to new sides of Research and Development which I had not been exposed to and the difficult decisions that Public Servants make; for example, deciding the extent to which a certain field of research should be funded. I have also learnt a lot about the daily responsibilities of civil servants, especially over lunchtime conversations with the officers working at CREATE.
3. Share with us a couple of highlights from your scholarship journey.
One of the highlights is definitely gaining new friends from the Preparatory Course that all scholarship holders from my cohort attended. Even though we all went our separate ways after the course, I know that I have a community that I can count on if I ever need help or advice. As we are connected through social media, I remember asking others what the response for the US election was on their college campuses, and learning from the sharing of experiences that took place.
I am currently in my second year of undergraduate studies, so many of the highlights are related to my experiences in college. Once, I was invited to a dinner with my college's Board of Trustees. Upon finding out that I was Singaporean and on a scholarship, the conversation at my dinner table drifted to Singapore and surprisingly the PSC Scholarships, because one of the trustees sitting next to me was in fact really familiar with the PSC Scholarships and wanted to know what my future aspirations were for Singapore! That conversation has stuck with me till today, because I felt how Singapore punches above its own weight, and that even as a scholarship holder who had not started work, I was able to share meaningfully with others about the Civil Service.
4. What is your burning ambition for your Public Service career and how would you go about achieving it?
Perhaps it is because I attend a women's college, but my burning ambition is to hear more from women in leadership in the Civil Service! It would be really empowering for junior officers to learn from their experiences, as I do believe there are struggles unique to women when it comes to pursuing a Public Service career. As for how I would go about achieving it, perhaps this could be done through a networking forum, magazine feature or networking opportunity with women leaders in Public Service? It would be even more amazing if it could branch into work groups that offer support on important issues specific to women, such as helping mothers return to the workforce.