Moving on from Hell's Kitchen

DSC04412What doesn't kill you makes you stronger – Jerome Sim (Class of 2021) would attest to that after surviving ‘Hell’s Kitchen’. 

While juggling the demands of a double major in Philosophy and Economics, the filial son was running a hawker store to help out with his family’s tight finances.

Recounting the arduous period during his freshman year, he said, “University life was terrible, to say the least.” 

His working hours were long and gruelling. For 12 hours a day, Jerome prepared ingredients, toiled over the hot stove and served customers. 

He barely had time to study or have enough sleep. Inevitably, his grades suffered along with his health. The fatigued student often fell sick and lost 10 kg in that year. 

Jerome’s misery finally ended in 2018. He received the NUS Alumni - Wong Ah Long Bursary, which was set up in the late NUS alumnus’ honour to help students in financial need. 

It wasn't a magical recipe for success, but definitely, a key ingredient to alleviating his situation. 

“My family was elated and relieved,” shared Jerome. “Prior to receiving the bursary, my dad constantly urged me to quit my job because he was heartbroken to see me in the state that I was in. But I felt guilty placing the burden of my university expenses on his shoulders.”

Jerome’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2012. Her condition deteriorated rapidly, so his father stayed home to care for her while taking on ad hoc jobs. 

Now, in his penultimate year, Jerome can finally enjoy school life guilt free. Thanks to the Bursary he received, Jerome was able to give up his hawker job and immerse himself in his studies and extra-curricular activities at his hall, Residential College 4. 

Jerome even has time to pursue his passion — philosophy. Together with like-minded hall mates, he set up RC4philo, a philosophy interest group that meets every fortnight to discuss and exchange thought-provoking ideas.

When asked about the impact the Bursary has had on his life, Jerome remarked, “The Bursary has given me the freedom to fully focus on my studies. I do not have to worry about paying for my hostel or my next meal. My grades have also improved tremendously as the stress of money no longer plagues me.”

This story is part of the 30 for 300 campaign on the NUS Giving profile page. Visit the link to find out more about the campaign.