Delphine Chen, a Year 2 Nursing student at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, and a beneficiary of the Thio Kok Foe and Choo Kim Beng Nursing Scholarship, shares how her journey led her to NUS.


Why did you choose to study nursing?
It’s interesting how it happened. I chose to study mass communications at Ngee Ann Polytechnic because I like communicating and interacting with people. After I graduated, I worked as a marketing executive. I found the work exciting but I wanted to use my free time to do something meaningful, so I started volunteering at a hospital near my house on weekends. I found myself enjoying the work very much. I volunteer for the mobile library group in which we distribute donated reading materials to patients and interact with them. I felt a kind of meaningfulness when I interacted with them and when they showed appreciation for my service.


I felt like I was making a difference to their time there and I started thinking more about my career choice. I thought long and hard about it and was worried about whether I was making the right decision and if I could handle the finances. But my mother encouraged me and that was when I decided to take the plunge and apply for nursing at NUS.


Why did you apply for financial aid?
My parents are divorced and I live with my mum. Naturally, finances are very tight. When I was studying at the polytechnic, I worked part-time to cover my expenses and it was not easy as a student. I always knew I wanted to go to university but, after graduation, I had to start working first to pay off my polytechnic tuition fee loan. When I finally decided to apply to NUS, I knew that I needed financial aid to help me with my school fees.


How has the scholarship helped you?
I was really relieved to receive the Scholarship in my second year of study. I didn’t have to take an allowance from my mother anymore and I could worry just a little bit less about how the family will cope. It has also further affirmed my decision to come to NUS.

What has studying at NUS taught you?
I learnt the values of empathy and reflection during my course of study. Apart from having to remember a lot of details, we also have to learn to think critically in different situations. There is no fixed rule on how a situation is presented to you and a lot of different factors come into play and not everything will come directly from textbooks.


For example, when a patient refuses treatment, we tend to first make a judgement and think it’s the wrong decision because we care for the patient and want the best outcome for them. But if you pause and study the situation, have empathy and put yourself in others’ shoes, you realise there could be so many reasons behind certain behaviours. For example, they could be worried about the costs, or about the quality time they can spend with their family after receiving the treatment. After every incident, I reflect on how I handled the matter and how I could have managed it better.


Has receiving the scholarship influenced your thinking in any way?
There must be this one person who thought to give in order for this other person to be able to receive and benefit. In my case, it was Dr Della Lee who set up this Scholarship in honour of her parents. I am very grateful to her and I now realise how important giving is. Giving to receive adds value to our life. I want to do my part one day to help others in the future.


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This story was first published on January 27, 2017 on NUS Giving at