By Amanda Jayne Lee
Like many other National Service men who set aside their Basic Military Training (BMT) uniform to collect their A level results when it was released more than a week ago, so too did 19-year-old Sharon Tan.
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The Raffles Institute graduate is one of the girls in an 18-woman platoon. Her compulsory stint in BMT is part of a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) scholarship which she has applied for.
Of the unusual career path she has chosen for herself, Sharon is unperturbed and says she enjoys her days in camp. "I really enjoy the physical and mental challenges that it offers. I have also met people very different from my social circle. It really is a valuable experience."
Her friends were shocked to hear that she had to head for BMT, "A lot of my girlfriends didn't understand why I did it. As for the guys, they found it very novel."
Sharon never considered going to BMT till after her secondary school life. "I was not very sporty or even considered tomboyish."
Her decision was made together with her family and her father encouraged her to go for it. "He felt that it would be a good and enriching experience."
Sharon applied for the SAF scholarship as she believes it is an all-rounded scholarship, providing both Military Service as well as the opportunity to work in the Civil Service eventually.
"I want to give back a little for the life I've enjoyed in Singapore," she said.
Evidently a girl who has a passion for her country, Sharon was one of the few to represent Singapore's youth in Copenhagen for the Environment Summit.
"It drilled into me the dire consequences that will happen if we don't take care of our planet and also, what would happen if our climate goes out of control."
Sharon scored an outstanding 8 distinctions for her A levels, including an A1 for Higher Chinese as well as a distinction for H3 Chemistry.
Her excellent grades have allowed her admission into Stanford University in the United States, where she will be reading Earth Sciences and is considering pursuing a double-degree.
However, she has not yet decided what her second major will be but has expressed interest in Political Theory, in particular subjects such as Socialism and Marxism.
Besides her hunger for knowledge, Sharon found time to participate in many different school activities. She was the defender in her school's soccer team as well as an executive committee member in her school's Student Council.
With so much going on in her life, it is a wonder that she had time to study for her A levels.
"You need to maintain consistency throughout your school years, you can't last minute chiong (Hokkien slang for 'rush')" said Sharon.
"Even though school becomes very busy you just have to keep doing your tutorials. Also if you're unsure about something you just have to keep asking until you understand."