Sonia Natasha Nair leveraged her Normal (Academic) qualifications to pursue her love for science
Jan 9, 2019
From a young age, Sonia Natasha Nair had wanted to go to university.
But unlike some of her Normal (Academic) stream peers who opted for the junior college channel, she chose a different route.
With her Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education (GCE) Normal (Academic) results, she enrolled in Republic Polytechnic (RP) through the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP).
This allows Secondary 4 Normal (Academic) students to pursue their desired course in a practice-oriented learning environment for one year. It also gave the 22-year-old a headstart on the biotechnology diploma she completed at RP three years later.
Today, she is an Arts and Social Sciences undergraduate at the National University of Singapore (NUS) majoring in sociology. She tells us about her education journey.
How do you feel about being in the Normal (Academic) stream?
I was never bothered by it — it was merely a route to take me where I wanted to go.
PFP proves that even without O-levels, you can still choose a path to university that aligns with your interests.
RP’s highly-interactive, problem-based learning style also allowed me to grow at a faster pace.
Why did you study biotechnology and now, the social sciences?
As someone passionate about human biology, I found the biotechnology course at RP a good fit.
During this time, I became curious about human interaction and the idea of human behaviour and society. This helped me decide to major in sociology at NUS.
How did your polytechnic education prepare you for university life?
For my six-month-long final year project, I worked in collaboration with NUS on a diagnostic kit for diseases such as dengue, zika and chikungunya.
My day-to-day collaborations with NUS staff and students helped me understand university life better.
The project also helped me pick up task management and pitching skills, which will prove invaluable in my university studies.
What are your thoughts on having taken a slightly longer route to success?
I feel accomplished, and hope others will see that there are options beyond the conventional O-level paths to get into a local university.
To find out more about the PFP options available at Republic Polytechnic, visit www.rp.edu.sg/pfp.