As a young girl, Ms Melissa Iype John had many ambitions - radio DJ, newscaster, air stewardess - but she also had an overriding passion to serve.
"I want to give back to society by serving and helping people," says the 19-year old.
But she felt at a loss about what to do after graduating with O levels from Yishun Secondary School last year. She reviewed various post-secondary institutes, but none offered a course she wanted to undertake, until she attended the Singapore Hotel and Tourism Education Centre (Shatec) open house.
There, she learned about Shatec's many hospitality programmes, particularly its new Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) diploma course in Tourism, with a focus on MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions) and Events.
The 21-month-long programme aims to equip students with the know-how to manage MICE and events, and travel and tour operations through institutional training and an industrial attachment.
Ms John was initially worried that her poor math grade would not meet the course's entry requirements, but a successful pre application interview enabled her to sign up for the programme.
"When they told me I could register, I was so happy. It was a dream come true," she recalls.
Enrolled last year in the pioneer batch of the course, she was quickly impressed by the learning experience on offer.
Among modules such as communication in business, marketing strategies and tourism promotion, she particularly relished her lessons in event management.
"I enjoy the process of planning something and seeing the outcome at the end," she says.
She also had hands-on experiences in planning and managing events during her six-month internship at MICE Depot.
She says: "I could put whatever I learned in school into practice. I handled client servicing and F&B for corporate events, as well as large-scale events for 3,000 people."
Now in her final term, Ms John is working on a capstone project that will see her class plan an event of its own.
"Event management is not just about studying, but also about getting the experience and being exposed to people," she adds.
The programme has also fostered in her an interest in marketing, and she plans to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Tourism, Events Management and Marketing after graduating from Shatec.
Alongside the exposure and opportunities the course has offered her, she is grateful for the direction she has gained.
"I didn't do well in my O levels and I thought it was the end, but now at Shatec, everything I want is here and I just have to work hard to get it," she explains.
"The course has broadened my interest in the industry. I've always wanted to help people and now, I can do it on a bigger scale."
This article was first published on January 12, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.