Alumni Voice: From Engineer & Entrepreneur to Counsellor
Gangeshwaran Sivagroonathan, 52, came from humble beginnings. The eldest of three children born to an Indian father and Chinese mother, he lost his father at the tender age of 13.
“My father passed away suddenly at 44, leaving my mother to take care of us on her own. She had never worked before, so she became a babysitter to support us until we finished school.”
Since young, Gangeshwaran loved helping others, so when he grew up, he thought of turning it into a career by studying counselling. However, it was not to be.
“Back then, the people around me didn’t think much of counselling as a career. Moreover, I needed to support my family as I was the eldest and only boy. I ended up studying something related to engineering instead.”
In 1995, Gangeshwaran graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Physics and Microelectronics. After working for several years, he ventured into the risky world of entrepreneurship, opening his own business.
“I thought running my own business would bring me joy and fulfilment; however, at the age of 48, I found myself unhappy, unhealthy and miserable most of the time. I wondered about the purpose of my life.
“Looking for answers, I went through therapy and explored religion. Then, in 2019, I went on a spiritual journey to India and realised I could be happier if I pursued my first passion – counselling.”
Like any aspiring mature student, Gangeshwaran did some research to find the most suitable university for him. While fresh school-leavers could study full-time, he needed a university that gave him the flexibility to study while working.
After much searching, he picked OUM and enrolled for the January 2020 semester. However, studying as an older student was not without its challenges, as Gangeshwaran found out.
“I had to give up my free time for classes. When Covid-19 hit, I couldn’t do research at the library or talk to my lecturers and classmates like before.”
However, Gangeshwaran remained steadfast while never taking his eyes off his goal. “I didn’t overload myself, practised proper time management, and worked at a comfortable pace.”
In 2022, his studies gave him the confidence and capability to take on a new challenge. Gangeshwaran began a new venture – he set up a training company with a business partner.
“We provide HRDC-claimable training on mental health for corporate clients. Our focus is on creating awareness in the corporate world about the importance of mental health and spreading the word on techniques to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression at the workplace.”
Then, last year, he graduated with a 4.00 GPA at OUM’s 27th Convocation. “I believe that education is extremely important for our careers and dreams. When we take care of ourselves, we can also help others,” he said.
Now, Gangeshwaran is doing what he loves, helping other people. His humble beginnings and the turbulent periods of his life gave him the strength and fortitude to reach out for what truly fulfilled him.
This is something that we can learn from. Never let your circumstances get you down. Reach for your dreams no matter how tough it may seem. And there’s definitely no age limit for education, as Gangeshwaran has proved.