Brenda Khoo, 20, is one of the four recipients of the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities this year. In this article, Brenda shares more about her university school life and her passion in volunteering and community work with SPD.
Brenda is an optimistic and cheerful young lady. She gets around in a wheelchair as she has cerebral palsy which causes her to have some mobility difficulties, and wears hearing aids to overcome her hearing disability.
Despite challenges with mobility and hearing, Brenda has the perseverance and resolve to do well. In recognition of her academic achievements and contribution to community work, Brenda was awarded the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities this year. She was elated and felt blessed to have received the scholarship.
Brenda is currently studying for her law degree at the Singapore Management University (SMU), which she finds a rewarding experience. Apart from being able to challenge herself intellectually through acquisition of knowledge in law, she is thankful to her supportive friends and professors, who have generously offered their assistance at every stage of her learning in SMU.
An especially memorable experience was when she joined the SMU Rock Climbing Team. Although it was a huge physical challenge, her seniors were patient and accommodating in creating an inclusive environment for her.
“They always ensured that I was safe whenever I climbed up a rock wall”, she said. “They encouraged me when I felt afraid of overcoming my physical challenges.”
One of them would help to scale the rock wall with her to ensure her physical safety and to guide her along. “It was a fun and exhilarating experience when I scaled to the top of a 9m rock wall for the first time in my life!” Brenda is grateful to SMU for providing her with wonderful and amazing opportunities to challenge herself, and to her peers for supporting her enthusiastically along the way.
Besides being up to a physical challenge, Brenda also loves to write, which she has been doing since secondary school. She wrote for her secondary school’s newsletter and was in the Writers’ Guild in junior college. Her writing gained international recognition in The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition when she won the gold and bronze awards in 2010 and 2015, respectively. She is pursuing her passion in writing as the content and media manager of SMU’s Plastic-Lite Singapore Committee Team, where she writes about environmental conservation.
Brenda also has a flair for the French language. She sat for the French National final-year examination when she was in secondary school and came in third in the Singapore cohort. An avid reader, Brenda took part in the French Book Review Competitions held at the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Language Centre and won several book prizes. She also won the French Elective Language scholarship that was awarded by the MOE three years ago. With her love for the French culture and literature, Brenda volunteers weekly at Alliance Française de Singapour’s media library as a library assistant.
Brenda receiving the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship Award for Persons with Disabilities from Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and Education (left) and Mr Andy Hewson, Managing Director of Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore (right)
Besides academic achievements, Brenda has been passionate about volunteering and community work since her secondary school days. Last year, she started to mentor youths-at-risk at SMU through the Industrial and Services Co-operative Society (Singapore) Mentoring Programme by being an exemplary role model to help her mentees acquire positive life skills through friendship. Every month, she meets up with her mentees at least once for several hours to provide a listening ear and help to give her perspective on whatever issue he or she is facing. Through these sessions, Brenda has built strong bonds with her mentees.
As a person with disabilities herself, Brenda has a heart for the special needs community and hopes to set up a pro bono legal clinic for people with disabilities and raise awareness on the legal rights of people with disabilities after graduation. “I strongly believe that people with disabilities here need to know their legal rights and I hope to be an advocate championing the rights of the disabled community,” she said.
Brenda has shown herself to be an all-round student. We are positive that she will continue to shine in her studies and the good work that she is doing in the community.