Back to school for their dreams

DREAMS COME TRUE: Madam Sharon Lee, 42 (left), and Madam Lee Hwai Ling, 53, are pursuing their lifelong passion - in English language and literature and Chinese language and literature, respectively - by enrolling themselves in degree programmes at UniSIM.


    Sep 05, 2013

    Back to school for their dreams


    Written by Gwendolyn Ng


    MUSTERING the courage to fulfil her dreams, Madam Sharon Lee, 42, took the plunge and went back to school - 16 years after graduating with a business degree.

    Now, she is pursuing her passion, after having embarked on a Bachelor of English Language and Literature programme at SIM University (UniSIM) in 2008.

    The Nanyang Technological University alumna told My Paper: "The English language is something I have always loved. My dream is to write a book one day."

    She had initially signed up for a long-distance learning programme with an institution in Britain, but she soon found that it lacked the personal touch of teachers.

    The well-spoken Madam Lee explained: "The long-distance course didn't work out for me. The face-to-face interaction with the tutors is where I get my inspiration."

    She relished her experience of listening to UniSIM tutors reading poems out aloud with such passion that they "breathe life into the literary works".

    Madam Lee also enjoys the variety of courses she can choose from - from Singapore literature to the classics of Shakespeare adapted to film.

    The programme is tailored to fit the hectic schedules of adults - be it working professionals or busy mothers like Madam Lee - by offering evening and weekend classes.

    "It was important to me that lessons were conducted at night as I had to take care of my children during the day," said the mother of two boys aged 10 and 15.

    While she had initially felt jittery about returning to a school environment after a long hiatus, she soon realised that her fears were unfounded.

    There are no barriers between the tutors and students, said Madam Lee. "The teachers are really just an e-mail away and some even ask me to call them by their first name."

    Inspired by her nurturing teachers, she revealed her latest ambition - to be an instructor at UniSIM, as the university holds a special meaning for her. She has taken up an offer to do her honours degree.

    "I came to UniSIM searching for my self-identity. As a stay-home mum for 12 years, I was always introduced as my children's mum and husband's wife," said Madam Lee.

    "I was also feeling left behind as I saw my peers achieve success in their careers."

    She added: "Learning new skills and acquiring knowledge rejuvenated me. The encouraging comments from the instructors also helped boost my self-confidence."

    Sharing a similar story of accomplishing long-deferred dreams is bank officer Lee Hwai Ling, 53.

    The Chinese history and culture buff is excited about being able to pursue a Bachelor in Chinese Language and Literature from this year.

    "I've been wanting to further my studies for the longest time. Now that my children are older, I finally have more time for myself," said Madam Lee, who has three children aged between 19 and 23.

    Beyond indulging in her pet topic by watching Chinese period drama, Madam Lee can now delve into subjects of interest as part of her UniSIM programme.

    When My Paper asked her to name modules she enjoys, she easily rattles off a list - from the teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucius to literature hailing from China's ancient dynasties.

    If the opportunity arises, Madam Lee hopes to pass on her knowledge to future generations by becoming a teacher after she graduates.

    Hitting the books three decades after she completed her pre-university studies in a Chinese-medium school has not been easy for her.

    Still, Madam Lee has this to say: "Don't be afraid to chase after your dreams. It's never too late."