I wanted to study Psychology to better understand social issues and human behaviour, and hope eventually to be able to help the less-privileged.
Discover SIM GE “I WANT to get a job in an organisation that allows me to work with and understand people, provide support and aid to the less-privileged, elderly and children, and to attain personal growth,” says Petrina Goh YingLin. Petrina completed her studies in the BSc (Psychology) programme at the University of Wollongong at SIM Global Education, in 2014. She now works as Therapeutic Programme Executive in a nursing home for people with dementia. The petite but confident 24-year-old who holds a polytechnic Diploma in Psychology and Community Service (2011) says she was inspired since secondary school days to do community work. She took part in the school’s Community Involvement Programme and recalls visiting one-room flats under the TOUCH Community Services where old people with reduced mobility were living alone in shabby conditions. “We helped clean up their place and we donated food rations to them. It was more than an eye-opener; it was a life-changing experience. My heart sank because I could not understand why these elderly were alone, regardless of their background. Somebody should care for them, help them to live better.” During her Secondary Three year Petrina served as a volunteer at a home for the aged in Yishun. “The volunteers befriended the residents, helped to feed them, and even performed for them. I didn't feel comfortable initially despite the fact that helping others was meaningful to me. However, eventually I learnt to step out of my comfort zone. “We can help ourselves because we are healthy, we move and speak and do things as we will. A lot of folks can’t help themselves. Perhaps that is the reason we are created healthy; to help others as well,” she adds. Understanding Social Issues Better “Since then, I wanted to study Psychology to better understand social issues and human behaviour, and hope eventually to be able to help the less-privileged better through direct work with applied knowledge.” Studying Psychology has indeed made Petrina more tuned-in to people’s needs and to think more critically of social issues. “I was able to grasp new concepts relating to human behaviour and to apply some information learnt to my current job,” she adds. And in her daily work encounter in the home with the elderly, she is reminded how important it is to live life appreciating simple moments, among people who relate to you well. “The power of a mere smile and a listening ear, and relationships are all that matters at the end of life… they are what you would realise that you are left with, not material wealth.” As for Petrina’s current work, she says: “I bring the residents out to do simple work like folding towels, and to eat food and drink kopi at a food court, and do a bit of gardening in a nursery in Changi Village. These activities stimulate their mind and aim to meet universal human nneds such as the need to be a unique individual, to be included in a social group, and to be a productive person. These needs are often not met for people with dementia." Outside of work, Petrina likes to take life slow, sipping hot tea or latte by the Singapore River and reflecting on the human condition and life’s manifold blessings. She likes to read novels and lately she’s immersed in The Summer of the Ubume 百鬼夜行by Natsuhiko Kyogoku, a dark psychological tale set in postwar Japan (“ubume” is the ghost of a pregnant woman who has just died). Another book she had read and would recommend strongly is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon. The mystery novel follows Christopher John Francis Boone, a young boy whose symptoms and behavior suggest he has a mild form of autism, perhaps Asperger’s Syndrome. The book first came out in England in 2003, aimed particularly at young adults, and became an instant bestseller. Advice To Present Students Sounding wise beyond her years, Petrina’s parting words to students still struggling with class and exams: “Think of where you would be after studies and work towards it, one step at a time. Slow progress is still progress. At times when you think you really might not make it, that is where the growth could come from after pushing through. “You never know if the exact moment you chose to give up is the tipping point that could bring you success. As long as something is done to move forward, no matter small, you will eventually get to your goal or something else equally worthy - it’s a matter of time. “Don’t be disheartened if you find that you are not where you thought you would be. There will be opportunities along the way. “Most important, remember that there is more to life than studies. Balance is the key!” Studying Psychology has indeed made Petrina more tuned-in to people’s psychological needs - Posted online, June 10, 2015