Twenty-year-old Malini Pannirselvam knows what it's like to hope for someone to lend a helping hand. And now she wants to give back.
A volunteer with the World Food Programme, she has launched her own henna art business to raise funds and sponsor food aid.
But there was a time when Miss Pannirselvam, the youngest of three children in her family, had to take a loan from SINDA to help pay for her studies as her family was facing financial problems.
Together with over 100 others studying at the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS), she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with concentration in mass communications from Oklahoma City University (OCU).
They received their degree scrolls from the guest of honour, Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef, who is the Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC, at Raffles City Convention Centre on Oct 11.
She said: "I am thankful for the support from SINDA and the encouragement of my lecturers at MDIS who taught me to be resourceful and confident so that I can initiate new concepts and ideas to contribute meaningfully to the needy."
Another graduate, Mr Basil Iskandar Mirza, 20, had to overcome the difficulty of a non-functional left hand, the result of a serious road accident which also left him in a coma for one week.
He had to relearn the simple chores in life like buttoning his shirt and eating with a fork and spoon.
Clearly overjoyed with his achievement, Mr Basil said: "Making it this far is a big reward for me. Getting here was difficult - there were many tough moments and many low points when I felt like giving up... I would not have enjoyed my studies this much without my peers and classmates - they have been very understanding of my limitations, and so willing to offer help whenever I asked.
"I have not once been made to feel as if I was different because of my physical restrictions, even when playing sports with my friends."
Congratulating the new graduates, MDIS secretary-general Dr R. Theyvendran said: "At MDIS, we believe that every student is equally important, no matter where they come from and no matter what circumstances they may live under.
"We are committed to giving individual students any assistance they may require along the way according to their needs. And we will go the extra mile to help them achieve whatever they set out to pursue."
The MDIS-Oklahoma City University's Bachelor of Arts degree programme, first offered here in 1992, is Singapore's first American-style Liberal Arts Mass Communications programme.
It is taught by senior-level faculty members from OCU and includes a three-week on-campus residency stint at the university, with real-time TV production at the campus' studio.
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