Thursday, May 12, 2011

Learning... the Secret of Youthfulness

At our BBGS OGA annual tea on 7 August 2010, we met an alumna whom we thought left school in the 1980s. We found out later that she completed Form 5 in 1972. She is none other than Diana Sharmini Navarajasingam, the daughter of the late Mrs Singam (known for her golden voice) who was the Principal of BBGS Primary School 1 from 1979 to 1983). We caught up with Sharmini to find out the secret of her youthfulness.

Lifelong Learning Keeps Sharmini Young

By Lim Yuet Suan

“Learning is one way to keep me young, especially when I have to mingle and do assignments with the younger ones,” says Diana Sharmini Navarajasingam.

She is a testimony to the fact that the pursuit of knowledge need not stop after graduating from university or college. Millions of adults, who relish picking up the books again after a hiatus, find themselves not only improving their intellect but also acquiring new skills. Some even re-discover their interests and talents that had been put on hold in their youth.

Sharmini completed her Form 5 in BBGS in 1972 and Form 6 in Victoria Institution in 1974. Having lived and worked in Singapore for 25 years as an IT professional with Singapore Airlines, she relocated to Malaysia three years ago.

The graduate student recently rekindled her first love when she enrolled for a full-time architecture course with a local institution as part-time courses were not available.

“I had always been interested in Architecture but did not take it as a first degree because it was a six-year course. At that age I just wanted to finish my studies quickly. Plus, I didn’t feel good about making my parents support me for so long.

“This latent interest finally caught up with me and I gave in,” said Sharmini, who decided to ‘just do it’ when she was financially able to study full-time.

“It won't be easy going, but if you really want to do it, you can actually enjoy it. In many ways, there is more enjoyment as an older student since you are studying because you want to, and not so much because you have to,” she adds.

Excited about her course, Sharmini enthuses: “Besides technical knowledge, we also study about early architectural designs and the changing styles throughout the centuries.

“Architecture History teaches us to analyse people and their living conditions as well as how these ultimately impact the building design.

Architects must understand the community’s culture, beliefs and preferences before designing buildings that they will be comfortable in. Design is a creative process, and through the numerous design modules of the course, we discover our individual styles,” she adds.

Sharmini hopes to practise as an architect. “God willing, I hope I can live a long enough, healthy life, to be able to enjoy designing, for as long as possible,” she says.

NOTE: We would like to publish more stories of our alumnae who are on the life-long learning trail. BBGSIan Winnie Lim has also informed us that there will be an exhibition on post-graduate studies from 21-22 May 2011 at Hall 1, KL Convention Centre. For more information, please check out

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