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First Among Equals

Public Service Commission Scholarship

Posted: 22 July 2015
Singapore Sports School alumnus Isabelle Li Siyun scored a deciding point for her academic pathway when she was awarded the Public Service Commission Scholarship to study Liberal Arts at Yale-NUS College later this year.

Isabelle Li Siyun (third from left) with Principal Tan Teck Hock (extreme left)
The 20-year-old national table tennis player is the only recipient from a polytechnic to win the PSC Scholarship this year, and only the eighth in the past three years. Isabelle is also the first PSC Scholarship recipient from Republic Polytechnic.
“I couldn’t have made it this far on my own. I’ve got a great family to thank for supporting me in my pursuit of excellence in sports and studies concurrently, especially my mum who would bring meals to the Sports School for me during my polytechnic days so that I didn’t have to sit through afternoon lessons hungry following training in the morning with the national team at Toa Payoh Sports Complex,” said Isabelle.
“I fell in love with table tennis when I was about 9 or 10 years old. My coach, Mr Wang Xiaoke, at Chongfu Primary School, pushed me hard enough to challenge me but never overboard to risk me losing interest in the sport. He encouraged me to choose the Sports School as my secondary school. By the time I was in Primary 6, there were several Sports School student-athletes I looked up to – Tan Hui Min, Zena Sim, for example. There was no second thought about which school I wanted to study at. 
“At the Sports School, I learnt how discipline and time management could help me keep up with my studies while I played table tennis. When I was overseas and not at training or in competition, I would complete my homework, revise, read the lessons ahead and jot down questions on what I didn’t understand so that I could ask my teachers when I returned to Singapore. It was only possible for me to keep up with my classmates because my teachers would go beyond their call of duty to avail themselves, providing the guidance and support that I needed." 

For her post-secondary education, Isabelle opted for the through-train pathway leading to Republic Polytechnic’s Diploma in Sports and Leisure Management as the customised programme, delivered by RP’s lecturers at the Sports School, offered the flexibility that allowed her to train and compete overseas to gain international exposure and chalk up world ranking points. Isabelle graduated from RP in May 2014 as its Valedictorian with a 3.98 Grade Point Average. She spent the next 12 months training fulltime in preparation of the Singapore 2015 Southeast Asian Games where she won a gold medal as part of the Women’s Team.
“All the cheering and shouts of encouragement I heard from the spectator stand kept me going. I’m grateful to have the country behind me each time I compete for Singapore,” said Isabelle.
“My next challenge is going through university and graduating well, while continuing to represent Singapore in table tennis. It will not be easy but there are sportsmen and sportswomen before me who have travelled this path successfully and I look up to them.”
Seventy-five PSC Scholars, including Isabelle, were named from a pool of 2,400 applicants from schools that offer the GCE “A” Level Examinations or the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, a Specialised Independent School. They were presented the PSC Scholarship by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in-charge of the Singapore Civil Service, Mr Teo Chee Hean, at Grand Copthorne Waterfront on 21 July 2015.
Isabelle is looking forward to making full use of the opportunities available during her undergraduate years that will prepare her to be a good public servant as she takes up new challenges upon graduation.