Our Story
Light In The Darkest Of Places
Lydia Cheam
Published on 26/03/23
A career in social service allows you to leave a positive impact on people in more ways than one, as Social Service Scholar, Lydia Cheam would attest to.
Lydia Cheam provides psychological support and assessment for youths as a Psychologist at Rainbow Centre. With the Social Service Scholarship, she pursued a Master of Arts in Applied Psychology (Educational Psychology) from National Institute of Education.

As a Psychologist, Lydia works with youths with disabilities at Rainbow Centre, a social service agency that runs 3 special education schools.

She is a recipient of the Social Service Scholarship, which is administered by the National Council of Social Services (NCSS), the umbrella body for social service agencies in Singapore.

What sparked your interest in social service?

I was volunteering when I first got interested in psychology and a career in social service. When I was attached for a short stint at St Andrew’s Autism Centre for adults, I was touched by the interactions between staff and clients. There was a client who was about 10 years older than me at that time, telling me about how “people like him” were unable to go out to work. It motivated me to advocate for and journey alongside persons with special needs, to enable them to lead enriched and meaningful lives too.

How did you find out about the Social Service Scholarship?

I was working in NCSS when I discovered this scholarship. Through my work, I got a unique perspective into the work done by social workers, as well as the things that motivate them every single day. As I always wanted to work directly with persons with special needs, this scholarship gave me the exact avenue in which I could do so!

What opportunities did you receive with the Social Service Scholarship?

The scholarship helped to ensure that I did not have to worry about finances or how I would have to work part-time while studying, especially since my studies involved practicum attachments as well. Being in the programme enabled me to remain connected to other scholars and events where we had the opportunities to learn more about other subsectors within social service.

Can you share with us more about your role as a psychologist?

I’m a psychologist within the senior programme that consists of youths with multiple disabilities, from 15 to 18 years old. This may include intellectual disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, physical disabilities, and so on. My role includes providing interventions, coaching teachers and parents, as well as conducting psychological assessments for graduating students to facilitate their next placement.

What is your most memorable experience so far?

It was really fulfilling to journey alongside a parent, who found it difficult to understand her daughter’s challenges in expressing her frustration at first. Now, the parent is able to see her daughter develop the initiation to communicate with others using more appropriate means.

What advice would you give to those who are considering the Social Service Scholarship?

Social service can be a place where you find fulfilment by realising that there is light even in the darkest of places, and that you can make that light so much brighter for others. Take on the Social Service Scholarship, so that you can be part of the Tribe that make lives count.

To find out more about scholarships, please click here https://www.ncss.gov.sg/social-service-careers/scholarship-and-awards

This article was first published in BrightSparks July 2022 magazine. Reproduced with permission from CareerBuilder (Singapore) Pte Ltd