Teenager inspired by change in sister

SINGAPORE - Midshipman Angela Toh was struck by how much more decisive and disciplined her sister had become, and wanted to see the same change in herself.

Thursday, she was one of 21 people to receive the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Merit Scholarship from Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at Sheraton Towers, joining her older sister Stella, a pilot trainee, who received the scholarship last year.

Midshipman is an officer cadet of the most junior rank in the navy.

"After she came back from training, I saw that the way she made decisions and the considerations that she took changed for the better," said the 19-year-old, whose parents met and fell in love in the army.

Her engineer father worked as a clerk in the army while doing his national service, while her mother, now a civil servant, was a contract staff.

"I thought that was a very good change in (my sister and) I was inspired to have the same change for myself," added Ms Toh, who will read biomedical science at Imperial College London.

Seven women received the SAF Merit Scholarship this year, the highest number of woman scholarship holders in the last five years. Scholarship holders will be groomed to become senior commanders when they return from their studies.

Another five individuals, including one woman, received the Defence Merit Scholarship. Upon completing their university education, they will return to join the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) as defence executive officers.

They include Miss Rachel Ong, 19, who was inspired to follow in her mother's footsteps. The 19-year-old said her mother, also a defence executive officer, dispelled any notions she had that the SAF was a male-dominated workplace.

Another SAF Merit Scholarship awardee Thursday was Second-Lieutenant Benjamin Tan, 21, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilot.

He first fell in love with UAVs in junior college, when he had a stint with an air force UAV squadron during a Mindef-SAF attachment programme.

"It was then that I realised the SAF was not just a career, but a greater national calling like no other," he said.

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