Two years ago, Miss Malini Pannirselvam, 20, wasn't even sure she would graduate because of financial difficulties.
But last Saturday, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (in Liberal Studies with concentration in Mass Communications) awarded by Oklahoma City University.
Leaving Shuqun Secondary School in 2010 with an O-level L1R4 aggregate of 20 points, she could not qualify for a mass communications course in a local polytechnic. But instead of settling for another course, her parents enrolled her in the Management Development Institute of Singapore.
However, they had difficulties paying for her school fees.
She said: "We lived quite modestly but there was still a strain on the finances. My mother made sacrifices, skimping on her food and clothes."
Feeling guilty over her parents' financial strain, Miss Malini thought of dropping out of school to work instead.
She said: "I completed my advanced diploma and was apprehensive about advancing to the degree programme."
Her father, Mr G. Pannir, a 54-year-old taxi driver, was having none of it. He said: "I told her not to worry and that the money would come. We would take care of it."
With loans from her father's good friend and the Singapore Indian Development Association, her family paid off her school fees.
Despite her own financial struggles, Miss Malini gives back to society. The freelance henna artist donates her earnings to the United Nation's World Food Programme.
Her parents did not know about it until last week, when her story was published in Tamil Murasu.
Mr Pannir said: "Every father would be proud when his daughter graduates, but when I found out about her charity work, it took my happiness to a whole new level.
This article was first published on Oct 23, 2014.
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