For Retail Marketing graduate Pamela Wong, completing her degree is a major milestone in an educational journey not without its challenges.
The 23-year-old moved to Singapore from Malaysia as a child, but struggled to adjust to the language barrier and cultural differences.
'My family migrated to Singapore in the hope of a better education', explained Pamela, who has now become a Singapore citizen. 'It was really challenging for me at the beginning, it was compulsory that I had to restudy one year of education due to the difference in the education system levels'.
'It was a culture shock and I struggled to adapt to the new environment. I was once a confident and bright student back in Malaysia, so it was hard for me to accept the fact that I had to restart everything from zero. And because of the English language barrier, I hardly communicated with anyone. I dreaded going to school and had nightmares about getting scolded'.
Through support from a Government-funded Student Care Centre, Pamela adapted to her new environment and began to excel in her primary classes.
But aged 12, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic condition which causes repeated bouts of pain.
She said: 'My mum saw that I kept on losing weight and I complained about the pains in my bones. We went for a check-up and I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. It was as if my bones were fractured everywhere. I dreaded falling asleep as I knew I would waken up in pain'.
'Those days were the toughest period in my life. I felt that I became a burden to my family and often felt useless. Even walking had become a difficulty and I couldn't do many things like playing my favourite sports'.
Pamela found strength through her faith and has gone on to excel in her studies and extra-curricular activities at the Singapore Institute of Management.
From completing a highly commended dissertation looking at the window shopping behaviour of young consumers to being a peer mentor and volunteering at a nursing home, Pamela has become the model student.
'Adversity makes me stronger and who I am now, and I thank God for that experience', added Pamela. 'Being involved in student care was fun and meaningful, helping to support other students and guide people in need'.
'My passion for retail started when I worked as a retail associate after secondary school. I would like to pursue a career that puts into practice what I have learnt so far at University and in my workplace. In the near future, I would like to be an entrepreneur and start up my own business'.