I am a 23-year old Social Policy Masters student, sipping hot coffee at midnight and typing away at my laptop. My team’s policy proposal to evaluate the United States (US) Child Support Enforcement system is due in a couple of days to some folks in Washington D.C. who have the funding muscles we sorely need. The US has the second highest child poverty rate in the developed world; my colleagues and I at the University of Pennsylvania want to fix that. I don’t yet know what the outcome of this project will be. With all the fiscal clampdowns, there’s a high chance we won’t get our funding. But I guess what matters now is that we try, and try again, until we succeed. I want to be able to make a positive difference to the society in which I live. And I already know what that feels like.
After graduating from NJC, I worked for four months at the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO). At the time, the SCWO Taskforce on the Effective Enforcement of Maintenance Orders was newly formed. Its aims were to critically assess the failures in the national family maintenance system and to propose possible solutions. I jumped at the opportunity of getting on the taskforce. Months of data gathering, interviews with stakeholders, case studies of other countries, and brainstorming ensued, and the eventual proposal was submitted and reviewed by the then MCYS. Many of the suggested measures were finally taken up and were implemented in the form of amendments to the Women’s Charter, including added powers for family courts toimpose penalties on defaulters, a more streamlined process for claimants, and a newly founded Maintenance Support Central to provide legal representation, counselling and other support to parties in need. These changes represented a much easier time for mothers in obtaining money for the next meal, school fee payments or Christmas presents for their children. This sealed my conviction in pursuing a career in the policy field.
I went on to complete internships with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Manpower, to expose myself to a range of policy environments. I am now completing my MS Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, and will start work in the Civil Service in the coming year. I aspire to help tackle Singapore’s critical issues of an ageing population, rising income inequality, increasing political and social frictions and much more. I aspire to help others in need, not only through broad policy strokes but also at the micro level through continued volunteer work. My story to make our home a better place is still in the making. What’s yours?