From PHD to Poly Diploma

Tan Jun Wee went through a rough patch, but made it through eventually. In the process, the former Manjusri Sec School student found out – the hard way – that success is always possible if you have the right motivation.  He graduated with a Diploma in Electronics in May 2015, scoring a near perfect GPA of 3.98.  He tells us his story…


With my course mates on Graduation Day 2015

Let me share a little bit of my education background. I was a Ph.D holder before I came to TP three years ago. Sounds unbelievable? Well, it wouldn’t be, if attaining a Ph.D is as easy as dropping out of poly. That’s right – P.H.D. stands for “Poly Halfway Dropout”. While most spend three years to earn a diploma, it has taken me four and a half years. 

I first joined TP in 2007. But I was aimless; slept in class, skipped lessons and coasted through the day not knowing what I wanted out of life. Consequently, I flunked every module, repeated them and failed again. Soon, my devil-may-care attitude caught up with me -- the Course Manager told me I was to be removed from the course, in other words, “kicked out”.

That was when reality struck! I realised that I had let my chance of higher education slip away because I was un-committed. In desperation, I applied for admission to Republic Poly – but even there, I was rejected. Even seeking the help of my MP and appealing did not work. It was then that I really started panicking. I was lost and afraid. What would I do next?   

Well, my question was answered by the National Service call-up. The next two years gave me ample time to reflect and figure out what I wanted for my life. Close to the end of my National Service, I reapplied to TP under the Direct Admission Exercise, praying so hard that I would be given a second chance. With average grades from my almost five-year-old ‘O’ level certificate, the pessimist in me held little hope on the positive outcome of my application. But thank god! And thank you, TP! I was given a second lifeline, another shot to prove that I could do better. 

So the second time I stepped into TP in 2011 as a new student, I promised myself that I would make the most of my three years.  Besides working hard to achieve my academic goals, I was part of “E2Matrix” the official student club of my diploma group.  In my final year, I was appointed as President of the club – it was an honour and a responsibility I took seriously. 


With my E2Matrix team!

Studying in TP goes beyond the academic subjects; TP also offered us an array of enrichment programmes and opportunities for personal development.  I participated in a cultural exchange programme to Japan, and an Overseas Community Project to Laos.  Both overseas trips opened my eyes to different cultures and made me realise that in life, there is far more joy in giving than in receiving.   


OCP Trip to Laos

Finally, I would like to honour all my lecturers by quoting an ancient Chinese idiom, 一日为师,终身为父, which means, “To us students, you are like our second parent, always imparting knowledge and forever guiding us through the tough times.”

My TP experience is something that I will never forget.  Recalling my days in TP, and how I had pulled myself back from the brink of defeat, will certainly spur me on to achieve greater goals in my future.  Thank you, TP, for giving me a second chance.

I would like to end with a quote from the great Confucius, who said: "It does not matter how slowly you go.  As long as you do not stop, you will realise your dreams one day.”


On a rest day during my Japan Exchange Programme

(Adapted from Tan Jun Wee’s valedictorian speech at Graduation 2015)


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