Brendan’s parents grew up in Singapore during its transition from small villages into the metropolis it is today. As a result, they never went to university.
Somewhere in his childhood, however, Brendan fell in love with education and became enraptured with the written word, using books as both his refuge and his classroom. Having known for a long while that sharing his love of learning was his calling in life, Brendan applied for the Singapore Ministry of Education’s Public Service Commission Scholarship to go to university, study English, and become a public-school teacher. This premier government scholarship is awarded to under 3 per cent of over 2,700 applicants who choose a career in the Singapore Public Service.
As the first generation of his family to go to university – and realising this was a privilege many did not have – Brendan co-founded the youth-led nonprofit Advisory Singapore (www.advisory.sg) in 2016.
Advisory Singapore aims to help young people access the support and information they need to pursue their aspirations – no matter what their socio-economic circumstances, family background, or school history. To date, Advisory Singapore has engaged over 132,000 students and young people through its online repository of interviews, industry panels, and mentorship efforts. It has also partnered with companies such as Facebook, Google, IBM, and Bloomberg LP, raising over $140,000 in funding.
In 2020, Advisory Singapore was named the inaugural Champion Team of the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth’s Youth Action Challenge, bringing in a $50,000 grant to take its work forward.
In addition, Brendan has achieved a huge amount academically, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the National University of Singapore with Highest Distinction. As an undergraduate he consistently attained the Dean’s List (the top 5% of each cohort of over 1,200 students) and is now undertaking postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford, studying on sponsorship of the Rhodes Trust as Singapore’s sole Rhodes Scholar for 2020 from a pool of 250 candidates. Not only that, Brendan has published twice with both the Margins Journal of English Literature and the Unwrapped Journal of Literature, presented at several international academic conferences, and won the 2017 National University of Singapore Creative Writing Competition (Poetry Category).
Brendan has achieved all this while providing care to his grandmother – who is in her mid-90s with multiple chronic conditions – at great cost of time and commitment to himself. He has also been working part-time to support himself since the age of 16.
If Brendan wins the Global Student Prize, he will donate a portion of the funds so that Advisory Singapore can expand overseas with a Hong Kong branch in 2022. Other funds will go towards hiring Advisory Singapore’s first full-time employee, completing its registration as a charity, and expanding its content for students into short-form video content and audio podcasting.