It had all started in secondary school when Chermaine Pung developed a love for accountancy during her study of Principles of Accounts. Her audit internship experience and exposure to accountancy when she was at the polytechnic developed her interest further, as she got to review the daily transactions of a company and check for completeness in the accounts. She was enamoured by how figures can reveal so much about a company, and from then on, she was determined to pursue an accountancy education in university.
Since her teens, Chermaine’s family had been tight on finances. Things took a turn for the worse two years ago, just as the 20-year-old was about to enrol in an accountancy programme at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). Chermaine’s father, a taxi driver and the sole breadwinner of her family, was facing stiff competition from the then-novel ride-hailing applications such as Grab and Ryde. To him, the apps were foreign and complicated, and he was unable to benefit from them. As a result, income dipped drastically and strained the family’s finances. Her mother, a homemaker, juggled housework and took care of her then-ailing grandparents and four children. With an unstable income, it became even more challenging to bring food to the table, but Chermaine did not let the challenge derail her plans for an accountancy education.
A BURDEN LIFTED BY ISCA CARES
Knowing her family’s financial situation, Chermaine had been working part-time and contributing to the family income; she worked as an accounts assistant at a medical clinic twice a week and as an assistant teacher at speech and drama camps for children during her school holidays. “With the ISCA Cares Bursary, my father did not have to worry about providing allowances for me and my siblings. He could focus on the household expenses such as the utility bills and the hefty medical expenses for my grandparents,” shared the youngest of four children. Her grandparents recently passed on due to colon cancer.
As part of the ISCA Cares Education Programme, Chermaine received guidance from an experienced mentor, Jocelyn Goh, Audit & Assurance Partner at BDO LLP, for which she is immensely grateful. Her industry internship also deepened her interest in accountancy. She shared, “Working at EY has broadened my knowledge and horizons towards audit and brought me one step closer to my career goal of becoming an auditor. I was given the chance to apply the concepts that were taught in school which further strengthened my understanding of audit. Throughout the course of my internship, I was exposed to various sections such as cash, revenue and expenses of an audit. Additionally, I learnt to adapt to the new environment and team whenever I start on a new engagement, which in turn improved my interpersonal communication skills and teamwork.”
HELPING OTHERS IN NEED
Chermaine not only excelled academically – against the odds – she also made time to help others. When she was Vice President of Rotaract Club at Nanyang Polytechnic, she would visit old folks’ homes and repaint the old and dirty walls of HDB void decks.
When asked what motivated her to dedicate time for volunteer work despite her already-busy schedule filled with school and part-time work, Chermaine said, “Having gone through financial difficulties myself, I understand the importance of helping others in need. I know that there are many other people going through worse times than me. I love bringing joy to others because I feel accomplished when I can put a smile on someone’s face.”
Currently, she serves as Vice President of a group of representatives from SUSS that helps out at Runninghour, a club which provides support to people with special needs through physical exercise. She would spend one day every week running with intellectually- and/or visually-challenged people, whom she calls friends.
GIVING BACK TO ISCA CARES
The ISCA Cares Award helps to subsidise her tuition fees through university and also contributed to her basic living expenses. Now in her third year in university, Chermaine hopes to secure a position in an accounting firm upon graduation.
To thank the donors of ISCA Cares for helping her achieve her dreams of becoming an accountant, Chermaine drew two pictures that expressed her heartfelt gratitude for the support she has received. This simple yet heart-warming design will be imprinted on mugs to raise funds for ISCA Cares so that it can continue its mission in supporting needy students in their journey towards completing their accountancy education. Stay tuned for updates from ISCA Cares!
THANK YOU, ISCA CARES
Chermaine expresses her heartfelt gratitude for the help she has received through two pictures.
“Each flower in the garden represents the dream of a student in need, and the balloon symbolises the hope he/she holds dear to his/her heart. The boy and girl represent the donors of ISCA Cares, who make dreams come true for the beneficiaries, like me. ISCA Cares has enabled many needy accountancy students to work hard towards the hope of becoming an accountant or auditor in the future. I am truly grateful that ISCA Cares Bursary Award has made a positive impact in my life,” she says.