Commissioning as an officer at the age of 26, Commando and Sword of Merit recipient 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Kavin Timothy S/O Trina Shanti proves that there are many paths to excellence.
He enlisted for National Service (NS) later than most of his peers because of his longer academic journey.
He spent five years in secondary school in the Normal (Academic) course before spending four years in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), completing a Nitec in Aerospace Avionics, and another two years completing a Higher Nitec in Electronic Engineering.
2LT Kavin did well at ITE and went on to complete a Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering at Singapore Polytechnic. This added another three years to his educational journey. By time he enlisted for NS, he was 25.
He did not face much difficulty in adjusting to the age gap between him and his peers when he enlisted. "When I was in polytechnic, my peers were also two to three years younger than me. In a way, that experience prepared me for NS."
During polytechnic, 2LT Kavin also took part in community service projects, where he had to lead his younger schoolmates. "I was involved in overseas community service trips as a trip leader. That experience taught me how to lead others."
These experiences smoothed 2LT Kavin's transition to NS, and he found it easy to relate to his younger peers in Basic Military Training (BMT) and later, in Officer Cadet School (OCS).
"My peers were younger and they were more playful. I would encourage them to put their heart into training when they were carried away by their own conversations."
Joining the Commandos
His NS journey almost took a different path – he was called up for enlistment into the Singapore Police Force after completing his ITE course. But he wanted to complete his Polytechnic studies first and was subsequently granted a deferment.
When it finally came time for him to enlist, he indicated his interest to join the commandos. 2LT Kavin explained: "To me, the Commandos are special. They are a unique breed of soldiers who regularly take on on challenging tasks."
This resonated with 2LT Kavin, who loves adventure and thrives on challenges. "I have always wanted (to don) the red beret because of the values which the commandos stand for."
After doing well during the BMT conducted by the commandos, he was selected for OCS. It was an achievement he did not expect, but he took the challenge head on – and eventually graduated with the Sword of Merit award, which is given to the top 10 per cent of a graduating cohort.
"At OCS, the emphasis was more on inculcating the right values. The training built up my character," said 2LT Kavin.
Grateful for the journey
Despite his longer-than-usual journey, 2LT Kavin says that his study and NS experiences have made him more mature and appreciative of what he has in life.
"It's been very meaningful and I picked up many valuable lessons from the people I met along the way.
"If I had enlisted earlier at the age of 19 or 20, I would likely have been more playful and would not have understood the true meaning behind NS," 2LT Kavin said.
For now, 2LT Kavin is looking forward to being posted back to 1st Commando Battalion to serve the remainder of his NS stint as a Detachment Commander.
When asked about his biggest takeaway from his NS journey thus far, 2LT Kavin said: "Nothing is impossible if you put your mind and heart to it. Age is just a number.
"I faced numerous setbacks during my educational journey but that didn’t stop me from doing my best in NS despite enlisting at a later age."