Mum of four returns to school and wins award


She gave up her studies when she had her first child at the age of 16.

But Mrs Kousalya Selvakumar returned to school as a 31-year-old mother of four for a course in nursing at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). Now, at 34, she is a Year 2 nursing diploma student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic - and an award winner.

She received the Sinda Excellence Award 2020 for attaining a Nitec Certificate of Merit in nursing and for making it onto the Director's List every semester at ITE East (Simei).

Mrs Kousalya, with four children aged 18, 10, eight and six, aspires to be a staff nurse in the paediatric or gynaecological field. "I couldn't continue my studies after my O levels when I got pregnant with my first child. For 14 years, I worked as an administrator but I always felt there was more I could achieve," she said.

Her husband, Mr Chithravel Pandy, 46, an operations manager who is now the sole breadwinner of the family, has been her pillar of strength since they got married. She has not found it easy to balance her studies and duties as a mother.

However, constant support from her husband, parents and two sisters' gave her the courage to make the best use of her opportunities at school.

"I was very hesitant to join ITE at the age of 31," she said. "I thought I was going to feel out of place studying with a bunch of teenagers. So I did a bit of research online and was so relieved to learn that there were so many others from my age group or even older (at ITE).

"I can confidently say that the best two years of my academic journey were at ITE. I made many friends and I loved what I studied. I also had the opportunity to travel abroad for seminars and exchange programmes in Hong Kong and the United States."

Computer geek Devesh Logendran, 20, also won a Sinda Excellence Award for bringing glory to Singapore.

He suffers from Crohn's disease, which causes inflammation of the digestive tract, but that didn't stop him from winning the bronze medal in cybersecurity at the WorldSkills competition in Russia in August last year.

He won the Sinda Excellence Award under the "International and National Competitions'' category.

It was introduced this year to honour students who have represented Singapore in international sports.

Currently a full-time National Servicemen, Mr Devesh will be pursuing a degree in information security at the National University of Singapore.

"In secondary school, I heard about an anonymous cyberattack," he said. "I started reading about how these cyber hacks happen. It was like a puzzle that I had to solve."

The Sinda Excellence Awards were presented virtually on Sept 26. The awards were given to 653 top achievers across 19 categories in academics, arts, sports and technical skills. This is the highest number of recipients since the awards were introduced in 1992.

Sinda president Indranee Rajah, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Finance and National Development, said: "We are heartened that more Indian students are doing better and achieving stellar results.

"These accomplishments are also the collective achievement of the community, as it was driven by the support and encouragement of parents, schools, teachers, organisations and the wider community."

Sinda CEO Anbarasu Rajendran said: "All of Sinda's efforts are to ensure that no child is left behind for lack of opportunities. I'm proud that almost one in five awardees this year were from Sinda's programmes and that we could play a meaningful role in their progress and success."


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