When the Path of Adversity Fuels Passion

Meet SITizen Karishma N Mehta from the Pharmaceutical Engineering programme.

Meet SITizen Karishma N Mehta from the Pharmaceutical Engineering programme.

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After her A Levels, Karishma N Mehta could not land a spot to read chemistry and biology in a local university. Most people would have settled for their next choice. But Karishma is not like most.

Instead, she took an unconventional path and enrolled in a polytechnic to study medicinal chemistry. She reckoned that while the route may be longer, she was more than prepared to slog it out and not allow a detour to stop her from pursuing her first love – to study science.

Her doggedness eventually paid off. Armed with her diploma, she applied for a place to read Pharmaceutical Engineering in Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), because the degree was the first of its kind in Singapore, and was formulated closely with industry standards. Karishma saw it as an opportunity to not only take her passion to newer heights, but also to stand out from the crowd by developing her skills in a niche industry that was growing.

Heavily integrating both science and engineering, the four-year direct honours degree programme trains students on both the theoretical and practical aspects of the pharmaceutical industry, focusing on development and manufacturing.

Now a final-year student at SIT, she can confidently say she has “no regrets” with the unusually long road taken.

With her polytechnic qualifications, she was able to transition easily to her degree programme curriculum. At SIT, she experienced a wide range of pharmaceutical processes first-hand, from research to manufacturing, which she found especially fulfilling. 

SIT’s industry-ready approach was amplified when Karishma embarked on her Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP) – a key component of SIT’s applied learning pedagogy – and completed an eight-month stint at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

During her time at the retinal lab at A*STAR, she immersed herself in eye research -- even working with real mice and pigs’ eyeballs.

Shouldering responsibility with compassion

Of the many takeaways she gained from the IWSP, one stood out. Karishma had found her true passion: Eye research. 

“Research is my calling,” she said. However, this drive is not a sole product of just her SIT education – it is also personal. When Karishma was still studying for her diploma, both of her parents fell ill. 

Their ailments resulted in them having limited mobility and Karishma, their caregiver, had to attend to their day-to-day needs and take them to doctors’ appointments. Despite the heartbreak and hardship, Karishma took the responsibilities in her stride. 

“When parents get old, children will have to take care of them,” she explained. “I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.”

This experience solidified her goals of venturing into the pharmaceutical world. The journey of taking care of her parents had made her realise how important her education is for patients and their loved ones, spurring her on to make an impact in her future career.

Fulfilling her true calling

Her motivation perfectly embodies a key trait of the SIT-DNA -- Catalysts for Transformation. “It might seem far-fetched, but one day, I might even create a new drug or find a cure,” said Karishma, brimming with optimism.

Despite questions and judgement from some naysayers, Karishma knew that SIT was the right place to help her fulfil her calling in life, and give her a platform to transform herself into a pharmaceutical engineer. And nobody was going to stop her.

“I found my true interest in SIT,” she said. “For that, I am very happy.”