SINGAPORE - A rough diamond.
This is how 23-year-old design student Nie Yunna would describe herself.
So it is apt that she is part of Raw Talent, a design exhibition at private school Beacon International College.
The former business student, who has always been passionate about art, is now a graduate of Beacon's graphic design course.
The exhibition, which runs at Short Street and ends today, was attended by design industry partners, members of local businesses, and academics from art and design schools.
Fifteen graduating and current students in the 3D design, graphic design and interactive media courses are showcasing their work during the exhibition, which was judged by industry experts.
This is the second time that Beacon International College has held a design exhibition.
Miss Nie, who is from Guangdong, China, won in the categories of photography and 3D design.
One of her works, an inverted photograph of children playing at a fountain at Bugis Junction, was taken with an iPhone and unanimously voted as the winner.
Miss Nie, who studied accountancy previously, said her path to design school was not easy.
"I came to Singapore to continue my studies in business, but after two months, I decided to switch. It was tough persuading my parents and I even cried a little," she recalled.
Another student, 26-year-old He Xun from Xian, China, had a similar story to tell.
The graduate from the 3D design course was a civil engineer in China for a year before taking up design.
One of his display pieces, a life-size painting titled "The Weeping Designer", reflects the difficulties of the profession.
But Mr He, a winner in the graphic design category, does not regret his choice of studies.
"I just realised that (civil engineering) wasn't what I wanted to do after a while. I'm not young and I picked this course because it can be completed within a shorter time," he said.
On the other hand, 20-year-old Khoo Qi Kai decided to pursue an art education at Beacon because the school has a strong focus on the commercial aspects of design.
The budding hairstylist studied at an arts school in Malaysia's Kluang before that.
Students who take the 1½-year Beacon course will graduate with a Edexcel BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in either 3D design, graphic design or interactive media.
Explaining the importance of the design exhibition to students, the course manager, Mr Indra Sarif, said: "In the design industry, certification is not as important as a student's portfolio and exposure in the industry.
"Some of the students managed to get internship offers by industry players who visited the exhibition."
Miss Nie is considering a few offers and hopes to use the work opportunity to improve herself.
"I still need a lot of polishing," she said with a smile.
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