N-level students don't let poor start in life slow them down

N-level students don't let poor start in life slow them down
From left: Rosny Pooja, Pang Yue Yun and Kyle Heng.

POOJA’S STORY 

She bounces back after setbacks

She cried for four hours after getting her N-level results two weeks ago.

Despite being among the top students in her Normal (Technical) stream, Rosny Pooja, 17, was disappointed with her score of 8 points for L1B3 (English and three best subjects).

She had expected 5 or 6 points.

But by the next day, the Serangoon Gardens Secondary School student had decided on business as her first choice of study at the Institute of Technical Education.

She said: "What is done is done, I just have to try my best in future."

Dealing with life's disappointments are nothing new to the teenager.

Pooja never knew her father, while her mother, who is unemployed, is unable to care for her.

Pooja lived with a foster family from Primary 1 to Primary 5, and was later moved to the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children's Home in 2009.

Her elder brother, 18, lives with her mother in a two-room rental flat, while her younger sister, 15, stays with an aunt.

Pooja was referred to the home by the Ministry of Social and Family Development when her foster care placement failed after her foster family could no longer care for her due to other commitments.

Pooja said her mother has promised to take her home in two years' time when she has enough money to buy a flat.

Despite her personal challenges, Pooja is an outstanding student in school.

She had been among the top-three in her cohort since Secondary 2, and is an assistant-monitor and chairman of her class.

DOWNSIDES

Pooja said living in a children's home had its downsides.

For instance, she said she could not go out as often as she wished, especially when she was in lower secondary.

Study time was also fixed - 2.30pm to 5pm at a study hall - every weekday, and she could not always pick the TV channel to watch. But there are also advantages, said Pooja.

For example, there are volunteers who help them with their schoolwork at least twice a week.

But the best advantage of all is her best friend.

Pooja said Pang Yue Yun has been a source of support over the years. They were classmates in Secondary 1 and 2, and have been close friends since.

Pooja said: "My siblings are not living here (at the home), so Yue Yun is like a sister."

The home has also recommended Pooja, a Korean drama fan, to a job at a Korean restaurant near the home, and she is saving up for her first mobile phone.

Ms Tamilselvi Kanagaratnam, who has been Pooja's case worker for two years, said: "I was so anxious at the exam hall and when they announced her name as one of the top students, my tears just fell.

"Pooja is very resilient; she bounces back each time she goes through a setback."

Pooja hopes to go to a polytechnic and become a social worker at a children's home after she graduates because she has been inspired by the social workers she met.

"They never gave up on me. Besides, I understand the children because I've been through what they are going through," she said.

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