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03 Feb 2021 | Cheryl Ng

Atika: Learning Never Stops

"Even at my age, I can still do new things. I can still learn. There's no need to give up. I hope that whenever my kids feel like giving up in life, they will think about how their mum still went and studied in Bettr Barista. Then they don't have to feel down."

Atika, Age 35, Holistic Training Intake #27


Previously, I was married to a Malaysian, so I stayed in Johor Bahru but couldn’t work there because I’m Singaporean. I worked in Telok Blangah and went back and forth to JB daily. I left home by 4am because of the rush, feeling like a zombie already. I reached work at 6:30am, finished at 5pm, and then I would run to catch the earliest bus possible back to JB. Then I’d fetch my kids from school and prepare for the next day and their dinner. By 3am, I’d wake up again. Every single day for about a year, plus.

Finally, I managed to get my four kids their Singapore citizenship to bring them back here for their schooling, since all my benefits as a Singaporean are here. At first, my husband was upset. He informed me that if you bring all the kids here for school, he won’t support anything. So for me, it is fine with me – what matters is their future. I can put all my efforts into them as long as they can grow well and get the best education, so I went for it.

In the first months of 2020, I struggled because I had so much to arrange in their first year here. My kids never studied before in Singapore, and never in English. But, they’re enjoying being in school here. For me, the most important thing is that they enjoy learning.

Then in April 2020, my social worker showed me a Bettr Barista flyer. Previously, I wasn’t a coffee drinker or lover, so when I told my mum that I was going to join the Bettr Barista program. She was shocked, saying: “You don’t drink coffee, and suddenly you want to join a coffee program?” But my mind was already set – there were even yoga and EQ classes as part of it.


At first my confidence level wasn’t that high. I was thinking: I’m already 35 years old, am I still capable of learning? I talked with my brother, and he said “You have to be confident. You can still learn.”

My favourite part of the programme was the EQ sessions because it helped me to handle certain matters, like when I’m feeling down over something. For instance, when I come back home after a long day and feel tired but still have to get on with my housework and my kids - they’re a bit naughty! But then I think back to the EQ sessions. I learned that if I feel this way, I should take a pause, don’t react, and reflect first. I’ve become more open-minded, and I don't become stressed so much compared to previously.

Now, whenever I feel that I cannot do something, I can push myself because of my confidence. I told Bettr Barista previously that I want to become the best role model for my kids. I want them to know that even at my age, I can still do new things, I can still learn, and there’s no need to give up. I hope that whenever my kids feel like giving up in life, they will think about how their mum still went and studied in Bettr Barista. Then they don’t have to feel down.


Since the EQ sessions, I became more open-minded. Normally I'm alone and I don't get to talk much to my other family members. I don't have many friends because I don't go out and I’ve been focusing on my kid. When I came into the EQ sessions, they discussed having friends. I tried to open myself a bit more, to go and find friends. A few of the other students, early in the morning, when they come to school they will text first “Are you coming?” And sometimes, I will check on them too.

After starting in Bettr, I started to have friends again, I started to go outside again, not only to work, but for class. It's new to me, to know that I can have friends, that I can relax a bit.

“This programme opened my mind and my eyes to a bigger world.”

Working at Starbucks offers different experiences every day, and that is what makes it fun for me. Being a barista at Starbucks means more than just making a cup of coffee. We're assigned to different roles and workstations, so it never gets mundane that way.

Though work can get tiring some days, I enjoy my time at Starbucks, and I realize I'm passionate about serving customers. You're bound to meet some grumpy customers occasionally but once you start talking to them, you discover so much more. And it’s through these connections that you know more about them; if they are just having a bad day or simply because we haven’t met as I’m new in the store.

Many of the customers at my store are regulars. Especially so in the morning, it’s a great feeling to see their friendly faces, and everyone is like a big, happy family. We know their food and drink preferences and have them ready as soon as we see them walk in.

Atika and Ahvic
From left to right: Ahvic (Starbucks Paragon Store Manager), Atika (employed at Starbucks)

I’m grateful. This programme opened my mind and my eyes to a bigger world. I'm also satisfied with what I learned and achieved. I was given the opportunity to work at Starbucks, which would not have been possible if not for this programme. I wouldn't apply for a job at Starbucks on my own because I'm a shy person. But I did it with Bettr and I’m satisfied with everything that I’ve achieved now.


Atika is a graduate of the Holistic Training Batch #27 and is currently employed at Starbucks in Paragon Mall.