Master Of The Sea Aims For The Sky
World champion sailor Rachel Lee Qing, now a trainee pilot, receives the SAF Merit Scholarship from Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence. Photo courtesy of Ministry of Defence.
Barely a year after being crowned 420 World Champion with sailing partner Cecilia Low Rui Qi at Neusiedler See, Austria, on 5 August 2012, Rachel Lee Qing set out to conquer the sky as well.
The Singapore Sports School graduate from the Class of 2009 has joined the Singapore Armed Forces and is a Trainee Pilot. Prior to her enlistment into Basic Military Training, she applied for the SAF Merit Scholarship and was awarded the Scholarship after completing her service-term in the Officer Cadet School.
“After having the privilege of representing Singapore in major international events, I felt that I wanted a career in which I could continue contributing to Singapore. The SAF is a professional organisation that provides leadership opportunities which aligns with my interest,” said Rachel.
Rachel said her interest in joining the SAF began after she completed her GCE “A” Level Examinations, and her parents are very supportive of her career choice as she has always been an adventurous person.
“When I was younger, I had a dream to be a world champion. I was told that Singapore Sports School offers a very comprehensive and well-structured programme which would help me juggle my academic and sporting aspirations. As it was a new school, being established only in 2004, I had doubts about how it could help me attain academic excellence amid a hectic training schedule.
“My brother Sean, who was studying there, was able to give me greater insights into the structure of the School and assured me of the flexibility and guidance that the School offered. So I joined the Sports School, in my Secondary 2 year.”
Rachel was already a member of the National Optimist Training team when she joined the Sports School in 2007, and was awarded the Singapore Sports School Merit Scholarship. During the year, she won the International Optimist Dinghy Association Asian Championship and was the runner-up at the IODA South American Championship and IODA World Championship. She also won the gold medal at the Nakhon Ratchasima 2007 Southeast Asian Games in Thailand. The following year, Rachel was the runner-up at the IODA North American Championship and IODA World Championship, and third at the IODA Asian Championship.
“My time spent at the Sports School provided me with many lessons in time management and prioritising. In fact, I truly appreciate the robust support network that the Sports School had in place only when I left to continue my studies at Raffles Institution.
“The teachers at the Sports School were always eager to help me catch up with my work, when I had to miss lessons to compete in international events. They were understanding and patient, and never failed to extend a helping hand. I could graduate with the results I achieved because of their dedication and support through my years in the Sports School.”
Rachel added that she had a great experience in the Boarding School.
“Boarding School not only provided a conducive environment to study, it was also a place to forge strong friendships. Living away from my parents for most of the week taught me to be independent and disciplined in managing my time. These skills were most helpful when I was undergoing training during which I had to stay in camp.”
Rachel recently left for the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, to pursue a degree in Economics and Industrial Organisation under the SAF Merit Scholarship. She hopes that in the longer term, she can share and contribute to the sailing community in Singapore.
Singapore Armed Forces Merit Scholarship
Introduced in 1983, the Singapore Armed Forces Merit Scholarship aims to recruit top students of each year’s cohort and groom them for senior command and management positions in the SAF. The SAF Merit Scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarships that is offered to GCE “A” Level, International Baccalaureate and Polytechnic Diploma graduates.
Upon the completion of their undergraduate studies, the SAF Merit scholars will embark on their career in the SAF.
There are three schemes available – SAF Merit Scholarship (Combat), SAF Merit Scholarship (Engineering), and SAF Merit Scholarship (Psychology).
Under the SAF Merit Scholarship (Combat) scheme, scholars will study at renowned overseas universities or military academies like United States Military Academy at West Point, the US Air Force Academy, the US Naval Academy and the Australian Defence Force Academy. Upon completion of their studies, scholars will return to serve in the SAF as combat officers.
For scholars under the SAF Merit Scholarship (Psychology) scheme, scholars will pursue a degree in psychology at renowned overseas universities. Upon their return, scholars will embark on a career as combat officers and psychologists.
Scholars under the SAF Merit Scholarship (Engineering) scheme will pursue an engineering degree at renowned overseas universities. Upon their return, scholars will serve in the SAF as military engineering officers.
The SAF Merit Scholarship is also offered to young women who aspire to become combat officers. Like their male counterparts, they will lead men and manage technologically advanced equipment. Their skills will be fully utilised, and their potential developed.
Rachel Lee Qing speaking with her peers about the Republic of Singapore Air Force's F-15SG multi-role fighter aircraft. Photo courtesy of Ministry of Defence.