National Council of Social Service
Feature | NCSS

Empowering Lives and Inspiring Change

Social Service Scholarship recipients Darius Leow and Lee Kang Qi share their inspirations, academic pursuits, and joy in meaningful work that empowers the lives of others.

Left: Darius Leow takes on various roles to help people in need as a Social Worker at Care Corner Singapore Ltd – Circle of Care. He is a recipient of the Social Service Scholarship and holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours (Distinction) in Social Work from NUS.

Right: Lee Kang Qi helps people in their recovery from mental illnesses and reintegration into the community as a Psychologist at Singapore Association for Mental Health. She is a recipient of the Social Service Scholarship and holds a Master of Psychology (Clinical) from James Cook University, Singapore.

The Social Service Scholarship, awarded by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), paves the way for like-minded individuals who work every day to drive positive change. Darius Leow and Lee Kang Qi embody the scholarship’s shared vision, empowering those in need so they may lead lives with dignity.

Darius is a Social Worker with Care Corner Singapore Ltd – Circle of Care. He graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours (Distinction) in Social Work from NUS.

Kang Qi works as a Psychologist at the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH). She graduated with a Master of Psychology (Clinical) from James Cook University in Singapore.

Their stories are not just personal journeys, but also tales of an unwavering commitment towards inspiring positive change and empowering lives.

Darius, you mentioned a significant event sparked your interest in social work. Can you tell us more about it?

Certainly. When I was a child, my church community group showed up at the hospital on Christmas Day when my grandfather passed away. They chose to spend the day being with us during our time of grief. That experience made me realise that not everyone has the privilege of having someone walk alongside them in their struggles. It sowed the desire in me to want to journey with others going through difficult circumstances and extend the same grace I had received.

That’s truly inspiring. And Kang Qi, what about you? What sparked your interest in psychology?

My passion for psychology was ignited when I was 13, when my cousin was diagnosed with depression. I heard hushed conversations about her struggles, and it struck me that those with mental health conditions shouldn’t be stigmatised. I wanted to raise awareness and support individuals facing these challenges, which led me to pursue a career in psychology.

Darius, you mentioned your sister introduced you to the Social Service Scholarship. Can you elaborate on why you decided to apply?

I applied for the scholarship as it aligned with my calling to pursue a career in the helping profession. It allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming a social worker without financial burdens.

Kang Qi, how did you discover the Social Service Scholarship, and what motivated you to apply for it?

I learnt about the scholarship through friends who were already in the social service sector. During my school days, I volunteered at non-profit organisations and sought out internships at public hospitals. Given my passion for working with the disadvantaged and raising awareness about mental health, the scholarship was a perfect fit for my career goals. It enabled me to support individuals and communities in need.

Darius, you pursued a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Social Work. Can you tell us more about your university experience?

From a young age, I knew I wanted to be a social worker, so I applied for the Bachelor of Social Sciences in Social Work to work towards that goal. My university journey was enriching and fulfilling, as it equipped me with essential knowledge and skills to serve my future clients.

Kang Qi, you pursued a Master of Psychology (Clinical). What led you to choose this programme?

Before entering the social service sector, I worked in a forensic setting and saw the importance of assessments in the intervention process. The Master of Psychology (Clinical) allowed me to be involved in assessments and expand my knowledge of mental health issues. It also provided me with a holistic perspective.

How did the scholarship support your respective academic journeys?

Darius: Coming from a family with limited financial resources, the Social Service Scholarship eased the financial burden and allowed me to focus on my studies. It was a great relief for my family, and it allowed me to prepare for my career as a social worker.

Kang Qi: The scholarship enabled me to pursue full-time education without worrying about my family’s finances. It also connected me with peers and seniors in the social service sector, broadening my understanding and professional network.

How have both of you been able to apply what you learned at university to your current work?

Darius: My university education has taught me to withhold judgment, extend empathy, and actively listen to my clients. It has shaped my perspective on understanding the complexities of life, and I apply these principles daily when working with families in my role as a Social Worker in early childhood.

Kang Qi: My training in psychological assessments has been invaluable. It allows me to conduct cognitive assessments and provide better support for clients’ rehabilitation plans. Additionally, my case conceptualisation skills and knowledge of evidence-based therapies have been crucial in tailoring interventions for my clients.

Darius, can you describe your current role and responsibilities as a Social Worker specialising in early childhood?

In my role, I work closely with preschools, stakeholders, and families to support the development of Care Corner’s Circle of Care members. I have developed strong partnerships with preschool leadership, teachers, and parents, which allowed me to play a pivotal role in implementing an interdisciplinary model within the preschool setting. My typical workday includes having conversations with parents, conducting child observation sessions, and collaborating with various stakeholders to better support children’s development.

Similarly for Kang Qi, could you tell us more about your role as a Psychologist at the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH)?

My work at SAMH involves providing rehabilitative programmes to assist individuals in their recovery from mental health conditions. I conduct assessments, interventions, and psychoeducation sessions to support clients’ goals and improve their quality of life. I also engage in discussions with stakeholders and prepare reports and case notes to ensure seamless collaboration within multidisciplinary teams.

What do you find most meaningful about your work?

Darius: I find it incredibly meaningful to journey with families through their children’s early years and witnessing their progress. Advocating for families and working with external systems to enhance support for both children and families is also highly rewarding.

Kang Qi: As for me, it’s humbling to see clients open up and welcome me into their recovery journeys. Their resilience and determination to manage their conditions and give themselves another chance are truly inspiring. I learn from them as they discover their strengths and cultivate self-compassion.

Is there anything that had surprised you while working in the social service sector?

Darius: I did not anticipate how challenging it would be to practice preventive social work. It is also hard to measure the tangible impact of our work during the child’s early years.

However, I am constantly encouraged by the resilience and love of parents to want to provide the best support for their children, despite facing challenging life circumstances.

Kang Qi: The resilience and resourcefulness of both staff and clients have been surprising and inspiring. The passion in the social service sector and the willingness of clients to work towards their recovery is truly commendable.