A graduate from the Diploma in Biomedical informatics & Engineering (now renamed Biomedical Engineering), Azmi bin Aziz, recaps his 3 years in Temasek Poly (from 2012 to 2015) – from the demanding academic work, to his leadership-nurturing CCA and his social life – and tells us how they have made him a better person with life skills that he would forever keep with him.
Through my 3 years in Temasek Polytechnic (TP), I have learnt plenty of useful knowledge that I can apply in real life situations or even during my National Service. It doesn’t matter that I wasn’t a top student; I feel that TP has given me and all-rounded educational experience and made me into a much better person today!
Since young, I was influenced by my peers to take up skating. My love for skating grew as I grew older. At the same time, my mother convinced me join swimming and life-saving classes! So when it came to choosing a CCA during my first year in TP, it seemed logical that since I like swimming and skating, it would be awesome if I could do a sport that kind of combines the two! So what do you get? Wakeboarding! I mean, it’s like “skating” on the water! It’s a really cool thing to be riding on the waves and best of all, it is like surfing! In Singapore, there is not much waves for us to surf, so the closest we can get to surfing would be in wakeboarding!
During my second year in TP, I was appointed the Vice Captain for Temasek Polytechnic’s Wakeboarding CCA group. I had to organise various events, such as the CCA Open House and the Annual General Meeting for the Wakeboarding Club in April 2014. I must say, being a Vice Captain is not easy at all! As compared to my Vice President role in the Info-communications Club back in secondary school, managing a sports CCA is much tougher! Why so? Well, I not only have to manage the CCA’s administration and wakeboarding schedules, but I also had to oversee training sessions, motivate the team to perform well and even encourage the newbies to pursue the sport with passion! Before competitions, I also had to raise the team’s morale, perk them up, and make sure that everyone was confident, prepared and ready! This not only moulded my organisational skills, but it also taught me people management and how to bring out the best in others; I had to be a role model and a motivator too!
Wakeboarding Club’s AGM 2014
During my free time after school or on weekends, I would go to Bedok Reservoir for wakeboarding practice. Sometimes we would practise at Marina Country Club too. We had to pay for the power-boat service and TP only sponsors the cost for our competition training. If we wanted extra sessions for leisure, we had to pay ourselves. I spent quite a lot each time – can you imagine, its $60 for a one-hour session? It’s even more expensive than taking driving lessons!
At the Rip Curl National Inter-Varsity Wakeboarding Championship 2013
I participated in 4 Wakeboarding competitions and I am very proud to say that I have helped TP to win 3 competitions (Overall Team Champions) namely, the Rip Curl National Inter-Varsity Wakeboarding Championship in 2013 & 2014 and the National Inter-Polytechnic Wakeboarding Championship 2014. Not only that, I clinched 2nd Place for the Men’s Freeride individual event during the latter competition. On top of all these achievements, I was awarded the CCA Leadership Award (Merit) by TP for my contribution to the TP Wakeboarding Club. I am actually very thankful to my friends who made these happen, and to my coach, Mr Paul Fong, for encouraging me.
At the National Inter-Polytechnic Wakeboarding Championships 2014
Winning is one thing, but more than the medals, it was the mental and physical training I went through which made me a stronger and more resilient person – an asset which I will keep with me for life. I mean, wakeboarding is a sport which requires 100% concentration 100% of the time. A moment’s lapse of concentration and the next thing you know, you will find yourself in the water! So the sport and the training I had received have strengthened my ability to concentrate and my perseverance to complete something which I do – whether it is a wakeboarding routine, my studies, or any task in life.
My leadership role in the Wakeboarding Club also called for a sense of responsibility and commitment. I went through a rough phase in my semester 2.1 when I had to cope with the increasing pressure from my studies, my duties as VP of the TP Wakeboarding Club, as well as taking care of my mother. I felt like quitting wakeboarding then. It was tough, but I persevered and decided to fight on. Thankfully, I had my friends around me to support and motivate me as well.
One other aspect in which TP gave me an all-rounded and holistic education, was in the development of my interpersonal and communications skills. We had “Communication Skills” classes almost every semester, which taught us not just basic skills like how to write well, but it also taught us how to interact, speak well, and make good presentations. These classes even prepared us for the working world by showing us how to conduct meetings and take minutes, and even how to prepare a good job resume and perform well at the job interview so as to clinch that dream job! Being a shy and introverted guy, I learnt to improve my interpersonal skills through these classes.
With my classmates
Camps are an integral part of any student’s life. There was no lack of such opportunities in TP! I was able to participate in many of them, such as the Mentor Training camp which was held to prepare us seniors to lead the Freshies during their 3-day Orientation. For me, I personally did not really fancy camps (I know most students do!). But when I attended these camps in TP, I found them to be really fun and enjoyable. In addition, what’s great about TP is that it offers various enrichment courses during the holidays too! I myself participated in the “Up! Your Service” course – a workshop which helps to develop our customer focus and service-mindedness, which are so essential in almost any and every job nowadays!
At “Week 0 Orientation” camp 2014
The usefulness of the life skills which I picked up in TP have also helped me a lot during my National Service as well. The leadership and people management skills which I cultivated in TP came in really handy during my NS training, where often we had to assume the roles of Platoon I/C or Section Commander. After my Basic Military Training (BMT), I went on to the Specialist Cadet School for training and entered the Combat Medic vocation. The subjects in my diploma course – be it “Human Anatomy & Physiology” or “Communications Skills” – had prepared me adequately for my role as a Combat Medic Specialist. My Wakeboarding CCA had also tuned me physically. I could do pull-ups easily as I had built up my arm strength which was vital as a wakeboarder. The immense stress and pressure in school had groomed me to better cope with the pressure that the army trainers heaped on us, when they “tekan” us, for example.
With my BMT buddies and commanders
A holistic education must not be too narrow and focused; it has to encapsulate diverse disciplines so as to give students a wider perspective. To this end, I am grateful that I had the chance to take Cross Disciplinary Subjects (CDS) as well! We were allowed to take CDS covering a wide range of fields, from business, entrepreneurship and IT related courses, to languages such as French, Japanese, Korean or Spanish, and even to self improvement courses such as grooming, public speaking and even flower arrangement!
But as an aside, I must say that CDS classes indirectly give us the opportunity to meet & mingle with students from other diplomas and schools in TP. So for example, an Engineering student would get to know friends from the Humanities & Social Science School, which he would otherwise not have met during his entire 3 years in the polytechnic! For me, it never fails to touch me whenever I think of the days when I took this CDS called “Places & Spaces” in my second year – the subject was about how physical places can mean different things to different people at different times, perhaps due to different experiences and memories of the place. Really interesting and awesome!
In the course of my CDS, I met and got to know Natalyn from the Diploma in Aviation Management & Services (AMS). As the course progressed, so did our relationship. As part of the CDS course, we had many field trips to different places, where we explored the place and linked it to our feelings. When we visited Bukit Brown cemetery, our first study trip, Natalyn and I were like strangers. And when we visited old Tiong Bahru town, we were chatting like good friends, and by the time we visited the old Railway station, and strolled along the old railway tracks, we were very much in love.
The place in and around our simple classroom where we had our weekly CDS lessons, were and still is, a memorable place for me:
An empty corridor outside the classroom
Might be of little significance to some but
It moulds me into the better person that I am today.
Meeting somebody who would become of great importance in my life instantly
Made this corridor a place full of memories.
A memory that will cling to me for the rest of my life.
TP has prepared me in every way to give my best in whatever I do. And that is what I shall do. I hope to be able to sign on with the army as a Combat Medic Military Expert and continue in the medical industry to save lives.
With Natalyn, mum & dad at my BMT Passing-Out Parade