Umaya Binte Rafiée

It was a difficult for 31-year-old Umaya to keep her head held high when she was without a diploma. Already, the slowdown in the Singapore economy proved challenging for degree and diploma holders to look for a job. As someone who was a few months short of completing her ‘O’ levels education, her search for job opportunities was even more limited. At every job, she had to deal with colleagues who doubted her abilities to excel, simply because she did not have a diploma.  

Umaya felt that it was finally time to rectify this. Taking the problem head on, she took it upon herself to continue her education, and prove her critics wrong. Initially, she thought that going to a local polytechnic was the only option available to her. However, she found out that she had to take her ‘O’ levels privately, before she could apply and obtain a diploma. This would have taken her at least another two years before she could obtain a diploma.  

As a mother of three whose cash flow is tight, that was definitely not the best option available. After many Google searches and comparisons later, she found a route that enabled her to obtain her certificate and diploma in a shorter amount of time. Since she did not possess a  “N” or “O” Levels qualification and wished to work at a place that requires writing and numeracy skills, she sat for the Workplace Literacy And Numeracy (WPLN) test which determined her level of competency in English reading, listening, speaking, writing and Mathematical skills. Upon completion of this WPLN test, she applied to do her Certificate in Business Management with PSB Academy. Through sheer grit, Umaya scored distinctions in all her modules.

Not satisfied with just a certificate, Umaya pushed on and took up a Diploma in Business & Administration (Human Resource Management) at PSB Academy. A big bonus of the diploma was that it could be completed within 12 months, without a sacrifice on the quality of teaching. The diploma was designed for those who want to acquire skills in formulating and implementing human resource policies and practices, and this helped open doors for Umaya. Halfway through her diploma programme, she applied for a position at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).   

The story does not end here, however.

As she progressed through the course, Umaya found out that she was pregnant with her fourth child. The long rides to and fro PSB Academy made her tired and constantly nauseous. In the past, she could sit through hours of lectures and tutorials without a problem. When she was pregnant, she could no longer focus as well as she used to. Her pregnancy threatened to halt her progress as it got worse throughout her trimesters. Despite the workload at work and at school, she also had to take care of three children at home who constantly demanded her love, care and attention.

Thankfully, she had her family and friends who encouraged her and watched out for her health. She also reminded herself of her personal goal to score distinctions on all her papers. Her classmates motivated her throughout this period and took care of her when she most needed. They made sure she never fell behind in class and was on top of all assignments that the lecturers gave. Being surrounded by supportive classmates made Umaya’s journey easier.

Umaya Binte Rafiée family

At the end of the day, she secured her job with PwC, much to her family’s delight. She attributes her success to her family, classmates and educators at PSB Academy, who were ever so patient with her. She says, “My family and classmates were definitely the ones who helped me cross the finish line in the course of my studies. They really supported me through my entire pregnancy. The educators at PSB academy were very supportive and helpful and always did their best to help us.”  

Has her story ended? Not so soon. Umaya plans to take her degree in the near future, which she hopes open even more doors for her. As of now, she walks into work with her head held high.