Callista Anne Yin Kai Ren
‘Ex-psych-ted’ for the future
Tan Kay Yong Gold Medal
Sheng Hong Gold Medal
While most students are inspired by a momentous experience to pursue their passion in life, Callista Anne Yin Kai Ren’s motivation for doing so was her younger sister, who was diagnosed with Dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at nine years old.
Even though Callista was only 12, the compassionate tween spent a fair bit of time teaching her sister to cope with her condition. Curious about the latter’s condition, Callista started researching and reading up on mental health disorders and that fuelled her interest in psychology.
Adamant to pursue a polytechnic education in psychology, the St Hilda’s Secondary alumna applied to Singapore Polytechnic(SP)’s Diploma in Applied Drama & Psychology through the Direct Polytechnic Admissions – now known as the Early Admissions Exercise.
Even though Callista eventually scored six points for her G.C.E ‘O’ Levels and could have qualified for a junior college, SP’s unique DADP course allowed her a platform to change lives, influence communities and raise awareness for the disadvantaged.
And she did.
In SP, she was given the opportunity to volunteer at various events such as the Smart Guppy Level Up Programme, where she helped youths with financial needs develop holistically through dance.
As part of her final year project, Callista and her team conceptualised and produced a one-time interactive theatre programme, called The Untangling Project, for the Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT) – a programme under the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) – to raise mental health awareness. The programme left such a positive impact that it received funding from the National Youth Council for a re-run at *SCAPE Singapore.
However, Callista’s experience with mental health runs deeper. Back in Secondary Four, she went through a difficult period where she suffered from anxiety, broke down often and isolated herself. During her second year in polytechnic, she also witnessed her close friend, who suffers from mental health issues, attempt suicide. Callista took on the role of caregiver and acted as a liaison between her friend, her family and lecturers.
The plucky teen has since parlayed her experience into giving back to the community. During her six-month internship at Halogen Foundation Singapore, Callista organised trainings and workshops to help youths develop leadership skills.
Not only did Callista do well academically, she also excelled in her co-curricular activity as a member of SP’s Strictly Dance Zone (SDZ) club. She performed at various events including the SDZ annual productions held at the Esplanade and had the opportunity to take on roles such as the Admin and Publicity In-Charge. She even co-choreographed a dance item for SP’s Human Resource Freshman Night.
Throughout the years, Callista has understood and showed true mettle. As a result, she will be pursuing Psychology at Yale-National University of Singapore (NUS) under the Yale-NUS College Faculty Scholarship.