By: Audra Tan 
Assistant Manager, Development Department

My name is Audra and I am part of the Development team. My main work responsibilities are to establish, build and maintain strong relationships with existing and prospective donors to support professorships, research programs, student scholarships, bursaries and community service initiatives. Sounds like a tall order, but I truly enjoy the opportunities to network. 

When I was invited to contribute an article, I was initially nervous. However, excitement soon overtook anxiety as I realised that this is an opportunity for me to share my reflections and appreciations for the year. Although this involves sharing a difficult phase of my life as I went through the failure of my marriage, I am motivated by the fact that I am no longer defined by my past or marital status, but by the love and support of the important people in my life. They are the ones that led me to where I am today.

Divorces are never pleasant and mine took a toll both emotionally and financially. In my darkest days when my self-esteem and confidence hit rock bottom, my family and close friends were there to give me their unconditional emotional and financial support. I am forever thankful and grateful for their love and generosity. 

Some believe that people turn to God only in times of need. I suppose it is true for me! Hope came from an unexpected visit to church in December 2012. That day, the priest shared a message about hope. He encouraged the congregation to keep our hope in God especially during times of trials and tribulations. The message was timely. It touched and instilled a sense of hope in my heart. I renewed my faith and enrolled in the Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). It is a year-long process developed for an adult to convert to the Catholic faith and in most cases, lead to baptism.

Audra and church-mates preparing for their baptism - *Baptism is a rite of washing with water as a sign of religious purification and consecration.”

I also signed up for the online 100 Happy Days Challenge which encouraged participants to keep a photo-journal of at least one happy occasion/thing every day for a continuous hundred days. It could be anything that makes you happy, such as meeting up with a friend or simply having a piece of cake. Participants have the option of either sharing their pictures on any social media platform or email the pictures to the organizers. I chose to share the happy moments with my friends on Facebook. 

It was fun at the beginning but subsequently it became a struggle. It seems that achieving happiness on a daily basis can be quite a feat! Fuelled by determination not to be deterred, I persevered. By the 100th day, I realized that I am most happy when my family, close friends and food are involved. Today, I no longer need any ‘happy’ tracker. Instead, I have learnt to ‘track’ the daily blessings. 

Audra’s favourite happy days ‘generator’- her parents and 4-year old niece, Meranda