She wanted to pursue her master's at a university in Scotland. The university required certification of her English proficiency so Ms Prethika Nair took the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) in January.
Ms Nair satisfied the minimum requirement of a band score of six in each of the four components of the test - listening, reading, writing and speaking - making her eligible to apply for the British Council regional IELTS prize.
As part of her application, she wrote an essay on why she wanted to further her studies and how it would make a difference to her life and the people around her. She was then shortlisted for an interview.
On July 25, Ms Nair became the first Singaporean to win the British Council regional IELTS prize worth £12,000. The 25-year-old (right, receiving her award from British Council Singapore director Roland Davies) is one of five students from the East Asia region to win the regional prize since it was launched by the British Council in 2011.
The IELTS prize is aimed at providing deserving students with international opportunities to pursue their studies and has supported 19 students in Singapore in pursuing their higher education in global universities.
Ms Nair said the money will fund part of her tuition fees for her Master of Science in International Relations at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
The IELTS is a highly-sought-after test that helps an individual work, study and live abroad. Said British Council's director of examinations and examinations services, east Asia Greg Selby: "As an international English proficiency test, IELTS has grown its popularity with over 2.5 million tests taken in 2014, and is now recognised by over 9,000 organisations, including universities, employers and immigration authorities worldwide."
This year, the IELTS prize presentation was held at Singapore Polytechnic. It was organised as part of the Education UK Pre-departure event, aimed at helping students heading to the UK in the 2015-16 academic year prepare for their new life abroad.
Said Ms Nair, who will be starting her one-year master's degree in September: "I'm very grateful. It's going to go a long way in easing my financial burden of pursuing my postgraduate studies. I hope I can pay it forward to society once I graduate. It will also bring me closer to my dream of helping disenfranchised people in rural areas overseas."
After the former political science student graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2011, she lived in Yangon for a year, where she taught in an international school. She visited orphanages and found that poverty is widespread and not every child has an equal opportunity to receive education.
Once she completes her degree, she plans to work in an international development firm or a non-governmental organisation, "specifically one that provides education infrastructure to children in developing countries".
"Studying overseas will enable me to gain an international perspective and establish valuable contacts in the field of international relations. This in turn will allow me to bring new insight into helping improve society in Singapore and bring it to even greater heights in terms of its already-impressive international standing," Ms Nair said.
Added Mr Selby: "We are pleased that our wide international acceptance and the IELTS prize are helping more students in East Asia to pursue further study overseas."
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