Uni student finds ways to give back to society -- despite having financial difficulties of her own

Some flinch in the face of adversity.

21-year-old student Chermaine Pung, however, has not only remained undaunted despite her challenges, she has even gone out of her way to help others.

Since she was a teenager, Chermaine's family has been experiencing financial difficulties. 

Her father, a taxi driver, has had to fulfil the role of sole breadwinner for a family of six.

Chermaine's mother, a housewife, has to juggle housework with looking after her grandparents whose health has been deteriorating.

Things took a turn for the worse two years ago, as Chermaine's father saw a drop in income due to the introduction of ride-hailing applications.

This happened just as Chermaine enrolled into an accountancy program at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), which further strained her family's finances.

Chermaine, however, did not allow her difficulties to get the better of her.

Not only did she excel academically against all odds, she also makes time to help others in need.

She volunteers with Runninghour, a sports co-operative that promotes the integration of people with special needs through running.

When asked why she undertook such an endeavour, Chermaine said it was her way of killing three birds with one stone.

She gets to give back to society, keep fit and de-stress from her schoolwork all at the same time. 

The 21-year-old currently serves as the vice-president of a group of representatives from SUSS who help out with Runninghour's activities.

Chermaine's unwavering spirit and civic-mindedness have not gone unnoticed.

Together with 28 other students from underprivileged families, she received a bursary at the ISCA Cares education programme’s award ceremony yesterday (Oct 5). 

The program, initiated by the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA), aims to provide needy youth with access to quality accountancy education in local tertiary institutions.

This year, the ISCA Cares Education Programme disbursed over S$100,000 to 29 beneficiaries, double the amount that was handed out last year,

The bursary that Chermaine received will go towards subsidising her tuition fees and basic living expenses. She will also receive guidance from experienced mentors who will prepare her for a career in accountancy.

Chermaine told Stomp that this achievement will go a long way in easing her family's financial burden.

She currently has two years left as an undergraduate. After that, she hopes to secure a position in an accounting firm. 

Aside from her career, Chermaine also wishes to continue helping those in need through community service upon graduation.

About ISCA Cares

ISCA Cares is a charity set up in 2015 by the ISCA as part of Singapore's Jubilee celebration to mark 50 years of independence. 

The initiative represents a collective effort of the accountancy profession to give back to society which has supported them in achieving success. It also signifies the efforts of the institute, as the national accountancy body, to provide a platform for the profession to support worthy and meaningful causes.

Find out more about ISCA Cares here.