Housewife overcomes divorce to re-enter workforce and pursue MBA
With a divorce looming in 2019, Ms Celeste Ling Yueh Er was worried that she would lose custody of her three children as she had been unemployed for more than four years.
She became a housewife in 2014, just before her third child was born.
When her marriage began to break down in 2019, Ms Ling – who had a diploma from Temasek Polytechnic then – had just started work as a waitress at a restaurant, earning $10 an hour.
After almost six months at the restaurant, she was transferred to a new cafe in the NUHS Tower Block at National University Hospital.
She interacted with the various healthcare professionals she served at the cafe and, inspired by these conversations, she decided to leave the food and beverage industry and make a leap into healthcare at the age of 37.
Today, Ms Ling, 41, is studying for a master of business administration (MBA) offered by the University of Birmingham through the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) and will graduate later in 2023.
She is also one of three recipients of the SIM Chairman’s Award for Resilience.
“At my age, I wanted more stability in life. And I thought, ‘How far can I go as a waitress?’” she told The Straits Times.
“I have always believed that education can change your life. Even if you start late, never stop learning.”
After leaving her waitressing job, she became a service team leader at the outpatient clinic in Alexandra Hospital in May 2020.
In this administrative position, Ms Ling gained confidence in her potential and started seriously considering getting an MBA.
However, she did not meet the criteria for sponsorship by Alexandra Hospital, which included two years of employment there. She had completed just one year of service.
Furthermore, without a degree, she needed two testimonials from her superiors to support her application for admission into the MBA programme.
Because of Ms Ling’s commendable work ethic and potential, the hospital’s chief executive, Associate Professor Jason Phua, and the senior nurse manager wrote convincing testimonials for her.
These testimonials helped her secure a place in the MBA programme, which started in July 2021. Ms Ling’s mother helped her pay the fees for the programme.
The SIM award celebrates the achievements of students who have overcome personal setbacks and adversities while showing exceptional performance in their academic pursuits and work.
Recipients are awarded $3,000 each, funded by Ms Euleen Goh, chairman of SIM Group.
“With these awards, we pay tribute to those who face the toughest challenges in life and can overcome these adversities and turn them into success. I am glad that SIM has been able to be part of their journey,” said Ms Goh.