[Editor's note on March 7, 2:30pm: A previous version of this article had incorrect details about the GCC, based on erroneous information in the source article. We have since corrected it, following clarifications from MINDEF.]
International Women's Day is coming up on Sunday, March 8, and is a global day "celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women".
One Singaporean woman to celebrate, International Women's Day or not, is Captain Ng Chen Hui, the first female medical officer in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to complete the highly intensive Guards Conversion Course (GCC).
Ng, whose Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) score is 98 out of 100 points, was featured on March 6 by Pioneer, the online magazine of the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF).
SAF scholarship recipient
According to her LinkedIn profile, Ng studied at NUS High School of Mathematics and Science.
The now-25-year-old then received the SAF Medicine Scholarship, and completed her medical studies at the National University of Singapore before returning to SAF to be army battalion medical officer with the Army Deployment Force (ADF), reported Pioneer.
ADF is a combat unit consisting of all-regulars that conducts niche operations in counter-terrorism, overseas peace support, and more.
Two weeks into starting her new position, though, Ng asked to undergo the Guards Conversion Course (GCC), despite it not being a requirement for her position.
The reason she gave to Pioneer for wanting to go through GCC was that it was a way for her to connect with the team of medics she led:
"Coming in, as a young 24-year-old girl, I felt that I need to go through some kind of common experience with them so that I can connect with them at a different level."
Positive attitude toward gruelling GCC
Ng was the only female trainee during her GCC, and had the same training regimen as the rest of the group for the course of the five weeks.
However, she said, she never expected to be treated differently from the men: "I pulled my own weight, and the guys respected me for that."
Despite the extremely difficult tasks, which included heli-rappelling, a 1km coastal swim and 10km combat march, Ng maintained a positive spirit through it all.
For example, she told Pioneer that a very difficult crawl felt like she "was crawling in teh peng", that the 1km coastal swim was like a fun swim in the ocean, and that she took her time heli-rappelling in order to "enjoy the scenery".
Ng leads a team of about 10 combat medics, and she takes that responsibility very seriously, particularly because they are an operational unit training for the prospect of a real conflict:
"I train my BCS boys personally. I take it as my responsibility because their proficiency will affect casualties that we would face in real operations".
She is also responsible for her team's well-being, offering them a listening ear regarding their concerns when they need one.
She also spoke about how she is thankful for the opportunity to "take charge of someone else's life", calling it the "privilege of command".
Message for other women
According to Pioneer, Ng pointed out that other women before her have also completed the GCC.
One such woman was the first female non-Guards officer to complete GCC, Captain Julianah Jamal in 2014.Ng's message to other women thinking of joining the military is to consider their motivation:
"Physical fitness can always be trained. For those who want to sign on, you just need to be clear about what your goal is.
Are you here to serve? If you are, then a lot of these concerns are secondary.
You must have faith in yourself and believe that you can do it."
You can read more about Ng's story here on Pioneer's website.
Top images courtesy of MINDEF / Pioneer.