Left: Haikal Afiq Bin Mohd Rizal looks forward to serving the community upon graduation. He is the recipient of the PA Undergraduate Scholarship (Local), and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Hons) in Sociology at NTU.
Right: PA Undergraduate Scholar (Overseas) Deborah Tan has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Anthropology from London School of Economics and Political Science. She is currently pursuing her MPA in Digital Technologies and Policy at University College London.
People's Association's (PA)'s underlying mission is to promote racial harmony and social cohesion.
PA helps to build communities by bringing Singaporeans together as they pursue similar interests. This way, friendships are forged, and bonds are made. Beyond that, the PA also bridges different communities and people from different backgrounds and brings them onto common platforms. Collectively, PA's approach contributes significantly to building a resilient and cohesive community that stands united and stays together, regardless of race, language or religion.
Haikal Afiq Bin Mohd Rizal and Deborah Tan are eager to take on the impactful tasks of fostering further unity in our nation. The PA Scholars are currently students and upon graduation, they will be carving out a career in community development and community bonding, as well as helping to nurture a great home and a caring community for all Singaporeans.
Haikal was always aware of his extroverted nature. He loved being around others, seeing people from all walks of life bond through community activities, and was part of the Student Council for most of his early education.
So, when it came to choosing a scholarship, he needed a place where these characteristics would shine.
"PA has the same purpose and vision of strengthening social ties within our community, choosing PA would allow me to continue my interests as a viable career path for myself."
In Deborah's case, she had already been active in PA's work through Interact Club and working with local community clubs. All she needed was that final push.
"I wasn't aware that PA offered scholarships!" she exclaimed. "As such, I was pleasantly surprised to find out about a scholarship which aligned with my interests and experiences. I knew that I wanted to start my career in a place that was people oriented and where my course of study would be relevant."
Learning for the People
Under the PA Scholarship , Deborah was able to explore multiple areas of study according to her interests. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Social Anthropology and is now pursuing a Master (MPA) in Digital Technologies and Policy in University College London. Organisational support also included travel expenses, internships, and encouragement in the form of a buddy system with existing PA Scholars.
Even as she absorbs knowledge from all over the world, Deborah keeps her focus on the organisation and how she will be contributing to its cause.
"PA works to bridge communities and I hope to apply the knowledge and skills gained from my undergraduate degree in social anthropology to this mission," she outlined.
"Moreover, as I am currently completing an MPA in Technologies and Policy, I am interested in how digital media can be employed to elevate PA's work. As Singapore strives to be a Smart Nation, the use of technology should always be carefully considered so as to reap benefits and mitigate risks; my master's degree gives me better insight into technology policy issues and innovation."
Insight into policy issues is also an important facet of Haikal's studies in Sociology, which has galvanised his desire to apply his degree to PA's programmes and initiatives.
"One of the biggest things I've learnt in Sociology thus far is that people are products of their lived experiences," he shared. "Applying that to public policy, it is imperative that policies or frameworks are not implemented for short-term outcomes but for sustainable long-term ones instead; in other words, policies that are aimed for the betterment of residents must target its root causes."
"To do that requires strong people-government dynamics that allow for discourse, and this is where PA comes in."
Working for the People
Both of them have had hands-on experience of PA's nation-building work thanks to multiple internships with the organisation.
PA believes in having its scholars experience every facet of its work before they commit to a single role, so Deborah has interned at the Ulu Pandan Constituency Office in a "front-facing" position conducting house visits and committee meetings and at HQ, worked in the Communications Group of the People & Government Engagement Division, where she was a key member behind Kopi Kaki's adventures.
"I found it very valuable to witness projects at different levels of the PA organisation as I could better understand how initiatives are planned and then executed on the ground," she shared. "I also have a deeper appreciation for all the PA staff who work very hard in various roles."
Haikal's internship with the Geylang Serai Constituency Office also gave him a taste of the myriad of career opportunities available in PA. He conducted walkabouts and checked in on residents and assisted the Constituency Director in researching, conceptualising, and providing inputs on a Geylang Serai Action Plan to create and sustain micro-communities within existing and upcoming HDB estates.
"Through my internship, I learnt that PA has a healthy, collaborative dynamic among its staff," said Haikal. "With PA, I hope to develop better communication skills with both like-minded individuals and others with differing opinions to foster a cohesive, tolerant Singapore."
For those attracted to these aims, the scholars emphasised how a passion for PA's work should come first when considering whether to apply.
"PA is an organisation that allows you to serve the community and while doing so, build your own bonds with the people around you and the people that you serve," said Haikal.
Deborah continued: "If you are people-oriented, passionate about community development and a team player, then you should consider joining PA as the scholarship will allow you to develop your interests and skills to serve the public."