1) Can you tell us more about how Access Singapore is formed and what it does?
Access was formed in 2019 by our founder, Clarence Ching. He was spurred by inequality debate when Teo Yeo Yenn came out with her book on inequality and felt that it was time to take action and level the playing field, providing opportunities for disadvantaged students to reach their potential. He also relates to his experience as an N(A) student, the lived experiences he went through knowing these opportunities were non existent compared to independent IP schools
Access is a social mobility non-profit organization which provides career exposure opportunities for disadvantaged students. Founded in 2019, we target educational disadvantages in schools with a focus on educational streams less reached such as Normal Academic/Technical streams as well as students on Financial Assistance Schemes (FAS). Access programmes are aimed at exposing students to various career paths while connecting and building relationships between professionals and students.
2) Why did you join Access Singapore?
It was via a referral internally. So, I did my due research and Clarence shared with me the vision and the purpose of the Access. In particular, what was most interesting to me was that it spoke to my experiences post-o’s when I had to decide what diploma to take. At that juncture, I was naïve and did not know what I wanted to do. So, I chose what I thought was the most fun course which was Tourism. Midway through the diploma, I realised this wasn’t the path I wanted to take. However, investments were made and I had to stick through all the way to the end. Thankfully, I was privileged enough and did decently to continue my studies in University. This was where I realised that not everyone has the luxury of choice in their later education stages and that we should empower youths with the knowledge and understanding of possible career paths before choosing their courses.
3) Who or what inspires you or keeps you going?
It’s cliché to say I am inspired by myself. Responsibility to my teammates as well as the purpose of the organization keeps me going. Ultimately, its teamwork. As cringy as teamwork makes the dream work, it is the team that spurs me on to do more in my role. It is also understanding that our students left our programme with a better understanding of their passion as they did before.
4) What are some of the main difficulties Access has faced? How did you overcome these challenges?
I believe the main difficulty was COVID-19 similar to other organisations as well. The sudden shift from physical events at schools had to be via virtual means. Our beneficiaries are secondary school students and its hard for them to be connected with us and remain alert through our programmes. This could have resulted in a poorer experience in understanding the workshop. It’s already hard for me to listen in class let alone these secondary students. Thankfully, the mentorships and programmes team manoeuvred the situation skilfully and managed to launch our pilot mentorships programme.
5) How do you manage all your commitments with school and work?
It takes a degree of time management combined with drive. By breaking down what I had to complete and delegate to my teammates, it makes it easier to balance both priorities. Setting reasonable internal deadlines is important as well for the team and for myself. Lastly, planning ahead allows me to anticipate peak and lull timings at school so as to slot in work for Access.
6) What advice would you give to other students with volunteering and joining similar social initiatives?
I believe its important to be passionate about the cause because that helps a lot when one’s lazy or unmotivated. Also, it helps you to be more driven to seek out information that could benefit the organization and the quality of work. Now, I would say I am more aware of the stories happening along the lines of social mobility and I am more equipped with knowledge when sharing with my peers or seniors.
7) If you could do/change anything in Singapore or about your life, what would it be?
So many things yet so little time. Aligning to Access’s mission, I would love to empower more disadvantaged youths with the knowledge, resources as well as the people to guide them along a path that they are passionate in
8) What does thriving mean to you?
To me, it refers to the happiness brought out from the value I give to others. Be it, humorous joke, quality work or even a listening ear, if I can bring value to those around me, I would say I am thriving.