If you had to choose between all the offers from the local universities in Singapore, which one would it be?

For Gabrielle Ong, 19, she chose to put this decision on hold to pursue her dreams to be a coder instead. This isn’t the first time the Raffles Institution alumni decided to not follow the norms of chasing paper qualifications.

When she was in sec 4, she was close to put a hold on school as well after watching a documentary on Apple’s founder, Steve Jobs in order to pursue her dreams. Voicing out her intent to her father, Gabrielle recalled his apprehensive response:

‘You will be Steve Job-less’




Putting Skills Into Practice

Heeding her father’s advice, Gabrielle decided to enroll into a JC to gain relevant skills and qualifications. She signed up for a three-month boot camp to learn web development at General Assembly (GA), a New York education company in Singapore after her A levels. Her three months there proved to be a strenuous journey which often led her to stay up to the wee hours of dawn to practice what she learnt in class.

Her hard work did pay off as reflected in her impressive coding skills. Her diligence and professionalism landed her a paid stint at the company itself despite her being the youngest in class. It was then that she realized that she wanted to gain as much job experience before pursuing a degree.


Besides learning how to hone her skills to design and build websites, Gabrielle claimed that the biggest takeaway of it all was learning the value of work.

“I can learn so much more by going to work first. In fact, I will probably gain more from a university education after a few years of working because I will be able to appreciate the relevance of what I am studying,” she said.


A Thing For Coding

Gabrielle realized her love for coding through projects in secondary school which required her to set up websites. While she was working on these projects, she felt limited to the preset templates available online.  Her innovative side was constantly thinking of how to improvise on some of the coding features.

I didn’t know you could create it from scratch. I always found myself wondering, ‘Oh man, if only I could add a feature to this. If only I could modify the software to allow me to do something I wanted to do,” she said.


Taking Charge Of What She Wants In Life

It was her stint at GA allowed her to discover the myriad of coding  she could possibly learn. She hopes that her coding skills will allow her to give back to society as well since it is something that she is actively involved in since young.

Although her route in life isn’t something that will sit well with individuals who prefer to secure their paper qualifications, Gabrielle stands firm with her decision to put a hold on school and never looked back.


“I am going to take it one step at a time. For now, I see it as learning from the university of life. It’s a different kind of education, but I’m taking charge of my own learning.”

What risks are you willing to take to chase your dreams?

Fira Hashim
Fira Hashim
I turn beet red when I laugh too hard and I'm quite the dreamer who writes A LOT.
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