SINGAPORE, 6 May 2020 - Four millennials who have shown remarkable courage, resilience and service to the community amid difficult circumstances are the recipients of The Straits Times Generation Grit Award 2019, now in its second year.
The four who will each receive a trophy and $5,000 are:
Ms Melissa Chan, 29, who was just a teenager when she became the caregiver for her father, who had young onset dementia. After his death, she went without a paycheck for three years for a cause she believed in: a social enterprise called Project We Forgot to support young caregivers.
Ms Law Mei Ting, 26, was molested repeatedly by her mother's boyfriend when she was just three years old. After years of struggling with shame and anger, and estrangement from her mother, the courageous undergraduate was ready to come out of the shadows and talk about her past, to break the cycle of hate.
Mr B. Kanesh, 28, who was first diagnosed with cancer at age 11. After a year and a half of treatment, he recovered, but a decade later, the cancer returned, aggressively. Despite this setback, he founded start-up Arrowdynamic Laboratories and did not give up on his dream of becoming an aerospace engineer.
Mr Asher Low, 32, struggled with body image problems for years. He felt ugly, worthless and thought about suicide. He has since learnt to deal with his inner demons and runs a charity Limitless reaching out to youth with mental health woes.
In light of the Covid-19 situation and the circuit breaker safe distancing measures to stem the spread of infection, there is no award ceremony this year. The four award recipients were announced by The Straits Times today (May 6).
Organised by The Straits Times and sponsored by reinsurance company Swiss Re, The Straits Times Generation Grit Award 2019 celebrates young people in their twenties to mid-thirties who have overcome major adversities in their lives – from major illnesses to troubled family backgrounds and bad life choices – to help themselves and their families and also give back to society, in their own way.
The four individuals were among 21 nominees featured in ST's fortnightly Generation Grit series last year.
The winners were selected by a panel of judges from The Straits Times and Swiss Re, and were guided in the deliberations by a two-week long public vote that drew 1,815 votes. The judges also recommended presenting a fourth award this year from the original three, given the impressive contributions of many of the nominees.
The Generation Grit series, conceived by Straits Times Senior Social Affairs Correspondent Theresa Tan, highlightsstories of millennials who have beat the odds and shown immense grit amid trying situations, while exemplifying a strong character and warm heart.
The stories and accompanying videos, helmed by Theresa and co-writers Tan Tam Mei, Cara Wong, Vanessa Liu and Goh Yan Han, have elicited a strong response from The Straits Times print and digital audiences.
ST Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Singapore Press Holdings’ English, Malay and Tamil Media Group Warren Fernandez said: “These are tough times for everyone, something which our four Gen Grit award winners are no stranger to. They have shown tremendous grit and resilience to come through their challenges, emotional, physical or financial. They show us all the power of the human spirit, to triumph in the face of adversity. In these tough times, we can draw inspiration from their stories.”
Swiss Re Asia chief executive officer Russell Higginbotham said: “These recipients have shown us that resilience is in all of us, and scars are more than just flesh wounds reminding us of the bad things that have happened to us. They have shown us that being resilient is a huge part of living your best life, and we could not be more proud to be associated with them and the awards.”
He added: "These millennials are a great example for all of us to follow and set the standard for picking yourself up every time you fall."
The full list of nominees can be found here.
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