The Lee Kuan Yew Award for Mathematics and Science for polytechnics is awarded to the top technology or computer science graduates in each of the polytechnics. This Award is funded by an honorarium that the late founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew received from various speaking engagements and funds raised from a special edition of his memoirs. The Award was first presented at the 1993 Temasek Polytechnic graduation ceremony.
“If you can succeed together, why succeed alone?”, is the belief that Koh Jing lives by. Such is the selflessness of this amazing young man who grabbed every opportunity which came his way during his three years in TP. He recalled how Madam Erlis, his Chemistry teacher in Tampines Secondary School, helped him develop a passion for the subject by always encouraging him to push boundaries. Her sound advice has been a beacon to Jing, opening many doors and enriching him with a plethora of experiences.
The younger of two sons of his school bus driver father and pre-school teacher mother, Jing started exploring poly courses very early and found that TP’s Chemical Engineering course suited him well. The O-level 6-pointer secured a place in the course via the Early Admissions Exercise. Within his first two years in TP, Jing participated in two research programmes, represented TP in the new Water Technology category of WorldSkills Singapore, and participated in the Pre-University Seminar.
A two-time recipient of the A*STAR Science Award, he interned for six months at the NanoBio Lab (NBL) where he conducted research on nanomaterials and energy sources. Passionate about environmental issues, Jing wants to use his skills and knowledge to reduce human dependence on non-renewable energy sources. His diligence saw him exceed the expectations of his supervisor and earned him high praises from his Major Project examiners.
Outside of academics, Jing served as president of the Chemical Engineering Interest Group, NICHE, in 2018. His desire to help people in need, together with his excellent leadership and organisational capabilities were obvious when he organised many peer teaching activities and events, and led the student body in numerous volunteering projects, industry visits and ChemEx Competitions. In particular, he led his cohort team to win the Annual Chemical Experience Quiz 2018. He was also an excellent ambassador for his diploma course, speaking at poly-wide events on its behalf. Jing also served as the vice-president of the TP Sports Club where he was always striving to increase vibrancy across campus for all students and staff through the club’s activities. One example is the very successful Sports Health Carnival cum TP-ActiveSG Cross Country 2019, which attracted more than 900 students, staff and members of public. It is no wonder that this young man says he will miss everything about TP!
Jing describes himself as being goal-orientated, hardworking and positive. He enjoys meeting people from different backgrounds as there is much to learn from each other. Apart from the many people in his life he has learnt from, Jing looks up to his mother most as she “works tirelessly”.
With an outstanding cGPA of 4.0, Jing has been accepted into NTU’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering degree programme. This curious young man, however, hopes to explore other engineering fields and has his eye on civil engineering so that he can play a part in urban planning and in ensuring that Singapore has more green sustainable buildings!
Go make your dreams a reality, Jing!
When Leong Chi Ren Wilsvin was in Northview Secondary School, he rose through the ranks to be Master Sergeant in the National Cadet Corps. After his O-levels, he attended a Cadet Officers’ course which empowered him to train new cadets in secondary schools. Drawn by the discipline of the uniform group, when Wilsvin started TP’s Clean Energy course, he applied for and was awarded a sponsorship for his studies under the Joint Poly-SAF Diploma Scheme (Army) by the Ministry of Defence.
The practical young man who decided on his course because of its career prospects, was determined to have a well-rounded polytechnic education. The youngest of four children of a businessman and a confinement nanny, Wilsvin put his heart and soul into his studies, his CCA and giving back to the community. He highlights his Major Project as his highest point when, together with his partners, he designed and developed a solar powered autonomous robotic vehicle that could collect rubbish along the beach. The project was selected for display at the Youth Energy Showcase in conjunction with Singapore International Energy Week 2019 at Marina Bay Sands. He also led his team in a presentation on Clean Energy Adoption in Singapore at the event. He also interned with Sembcorp Solar for five months as an engineer, where he did CAD-caliber layouts, remote shade analyses, and bankable energy yield calculations.
A natural leader, Wilsvin became Captain of the TP Kayak Racing Team in his second year. He dedicated his time to honing his craft, and was a multiple medallist at the POL-ITE Games, winning a Gold in the Men’s K4 1000m event in 2018. For his outstanding CCA contributions, he received the Sports Colours award in 2019 and the CCA Merit Award (Sports) for Kayak Racing. When asked how he managed his time with the intensive training he had, Wilsvin said: “Every day, I wake up around 5.30am to be in TP by 7am to practice before classes at 9am. I would look through all my notes, study and do my homework before bed, or when I had pockets of free time.” Such was the commitment of this remarkable young man who graduates with a cGPA of 3.96.
Wilsvin also volunteered his time and effort in local community projects, like the City of Sharing event with Paya Lebar Kovan Community Club Youth Executive Committee. He also organised an Overseas Community Project trip to the Philippines, where the students set up a hydroponic farm for the local community. Wilsvin also participated in Polytechnic Forum 2019, and was selected for the Harvard Business School Club of Singapore Mentoring Programme.
Disciplined, organised and self-motivated, Wilsvin looks up to his father who taught him never to worry about the “what ifs” and never to quit before starting something. Wilsvin will serve with MINDEF for the next five years before pursuing a degree towards achieving his goal of becoming a data scientist.
May you achieve all your life goals, Wilsvin!
Lim Yee Kiat recalls helping his father do “engineering stuff” around the house as he was growing up, which sparked his love for the intricate details of engineering. The Anglican High School alumnus had actually finished one year of junior college before opting to take Microelectronics course at TP as he wanted more time to explore what he would be learning. TP’s vibrancy captivated him when he attended Open House and, from the moment he started poly life, there was no stopping the Anglican High School alumnus, who embraced the many experiences poly life accorded him.
The eldest of three children of an engineer turned businessman and an accountant, Yee Kiat actively participated in classroom discussions and ensured that everything he delivered, from projects to academic assignments were of the highest quality. During his 20-week internship with Bang & Olufsen, he was mainly involved in product and application testing. A recipient of the A*STAR Science Award, he was also attached to the Institute of the Microelectronics (IME) where he carried out his Major Project, which required him to use a machine learning algorithm in integrated circuits design to improve productivity. The advanced technical difficulty of the project put Yee Kiat on a steep learning curve which he overcame with focus and determination.
In 2019, Yee Kiat led a team to create an app to measure electron microscope images in the Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors' Award Competition. He also won accolades for drafting designs of robots and his creation of prototypes during the SUTD Compact 3.007 Best Design Project. He represented TP at the Polytechnic Forum where he engaged government and industry leaders in national issues. Yee Kiat was also handpicked to attend the Singapore Perspectives Forum 2020.
A natural leader, he shared that among his most memorable achievements in TP were his tenure as vice-president of the Engineering Makers Club and president of the Diploma Club (ATOMIC Interest Group). For the Makers Club, Yee Kiat canvassed members to run skill-based community service programmes. For the Diploma Club, he spearheaded community outreach events to secondary schools and organised industry visits for his course mates. Yee Kiat also served as a School of Engineering Student Ambassador, welcoming prospective students and their families to campus, as well as assisting lecturers at outreach events.
Yee Kiat participated in a Youth Expedition Project (YEP) trip to Vietnam, where he taught children from less privileged homes and built essential infrastructure like roads in the rural areas of Vietnam. During the YEP, he demonstrated teamwork, perseverance, initiative and empathy. A young man with many talents, he received the Sports Colours Award for Taekwondo, having represented TP and winning silver in the POL-ITE Games.
Yee Kiat describes himself as a people-person who is curious and driven. His perfect cGPA of 4.0 has earned him a place in the SUTD Global Excellence Scholarship programme. To freshmen joining TP, Yee Kiat advised them to, “Make full use of the three years ahead of you, as there are many new skills and CCAs you can pick up to learn and enrich your lives.”
Teo Xuan Ming’s interest in IT was sparked when he went through the Polytechnic Foundation Programme at TP. The eldest son of a mechanical engineer and a housewife, he was in the Normal (Academic) stream at Xinmin Secondary School. Highly motivated, Xuan Ming’s role model is his father, who came to Singapore at the age of 18, without formal education, but made a successful life for himself. Growing up watching his dad, Xuan Ming developed a passion for learning and set goals for himself. With his inclination for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, he decided to pursue the Diploma in Financial Business Informatics.
His first year was spent building fundamental technical skills and Xuan Ming adopted a preparatory attitude towards his studies, looking through the syllabus even before the semester began to understand his lessons better. This habit eventually moulded him into someone who places a premium on delivering quality work in and out of the classroom. The outcomes were outstanding.
In his second year, he was in a team that won the Best Pitch Award at the PolyFintech Hackathon, for their idea to help people living in less developed countries get support for their banking needs. In the following year, he led a team to win first prize in the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Challenge where they pitched and created a prototype of an idea for utilising Artificial Intelligence for disaster relief. His Major Project involved the development of an open-source web application with a powerful in-built algorithm to help banks and financial institutions verify the identity of prospective clients who live in remote areas.
A lead instructor for an initiative called “Code in the Community”, he taught children from underprivileged backgrounds how to integrate Python codes with Internet Of Things devices. As a member of TP’s Global Connect Studies Club, he planned and participated in camps and dialogue sessions to increase awareness of international issues. Through TP’s Student Leadership Programme, he attended programmes like the Pre-University Seminar. Fluent in Japanese, Xuan Ming played a key role in helping host Japanese students from Kumamoto University and Kanazawa Commercial High School. In fact, his best memory is of a two-week cultural exchange trip to Japan, where he experienced a homestay.
Xuan Ming graduates with a cGPA of 3.97. A young man of integrity, passion and diligence, he wants to eventually work in the tech industry as an AI model builder. For now, he has gained admission into NTU’s Computer Science with Business course and SMU’s Information Systems course.
The sky is your limit, Xuan Ming!
The Lee Kong Chian Award is given to top non-Science and Technology graduates. It is named after the prominent businessman and philanthropist Lee Kong Chian, who set up the Lee Foundation in 1952 to aid the advancement of education and help the poor, among others. The Lee Foundation has sponsored the Lee Kong Chian Award in honour of Mr Lee’s generous contributions to education and society.
Matthew’s passion for numbers sparked at a very young age. He excelled in Mathematics in primary school and went on to excel in Principles of Accounts in secondary school. Scoring A’s in those disciplines came naturally to him, and he decided to tap on his strong subjects to enrol into TP’s Accounting & Finance course through the Early Admissions Exercise.
Struggling with dyspraxia from a young age, he embodies perseverance. The neurological condition makes everyday activities such as writing or typing harder to perform. With therapy, practice and a positive attitude, Matthew improved on his motor skills with utmost determination.
Matthew’s parents were greatly supportive of his decisions. “My parents are my physical and emotional pillars and they try to help me in any way they can,” expressed Matthew. “I have a close-knit family, and I want to always make them proud.” His biggest supporter from Montfort Secondary School was Claire Choy, his Maths teacher. She helped him assess his options and advised him to take the polytechnic route. True enough, in TP, he was introduced to an array of opportunities that contributed to Matthew’s growth.
While interning at an audit firm, Mazars Group, Matthew delved into transactional services where he learned how to analyse companies that clients look to acquire. He received the hands-on experience that he was looking for as he built his knowledge on acquisition and the emergence of IT in today’s society. Matthew continued to be invested in his passion, and contributed his energy to his CCA, the Accounting & Finance Interest Group. He developed his skills in events and publicity, at the same time, heading a TPSMART Financial Literacy Programme, an initiative that brings knowledge of financial literacy to secondary school students, teaching them how to manage their money.
Matthew’s education went beyond the classroom and Singapore. He volunteered his time to teach, talk and engage with children in the poor communities of Cambodia, and was part of a team which helped build roads and pathways near flood zones in Vietnam. He believes that leadership is about the back-end work, the preparations, the service and giving back to the community.
He plans to further his academic journey in a local university, and ultimately return to TP to lecture in the Accountancy & Finance course. “I get a sense of fulfilment when I teach people, and teaching helps me learn better, improving my knowledge of the subjects.”
He attributes his success to many around him who have supported him. His biggest inspiration is his mother, whom he describes as hardworking and selfless. To him, she has shown “how to be patient and gentle – the true nature of what being human means.”
Clemens grew up in a family of bookworms. His parents were both librarians and his late grandfather, with whom he spent the most time, opened his eyes to worldly stories. He remembers fondly a shelf filled with dusty old books that belonged to his grandfather—each bringing to life stories about Singapore’s history, culture and folktales. His grandfather, a knowledgeable, gentle and kind man, raised Clemens through those experiences. It is only natural that today, Clemens wants to tell stories and impact people in the way that his grandfather did.
All that interest in culture and language led Clemens down the path of media and journalism. A Ngee Ann Secondary School alumnus, he entered TP via the Polytechnic Foundation Programme, and enrolled in the Communications & Media Management course. Focused on maintaining a perfect cGPA, Clemens took school very seriously, making his mark by taking the front row in his lectures all the time. It also helped him to concentrate better. His traditional ways of studying also baffled his friends as he continued to use foolscap paper and ink to do note-taking for all his classes. His old-school soul is truly charming.
Learning hands-on digital skills and having a flair for writing, Clemens wanted to create pieces that raised awareness on local culture. “Journalism, to me, is the art of storytelling and a mashup of digital media.” He sees meaning in this profession and aspires to be a great storyteller.
Interning at youth.sg, a website powered by the youth of Singapore, allowed him to push boundaries with culture and opinion pieces. He explored video production while starting a series on cultural arts in Singapore. His first feature was on “Kathakali”, a classical Indian dance featuring dancers with elaborate makeup, costumes and face masks to tell their story. “I realised I had the power to tell a visual story, and I put in most effort to talk to people and tell real stories on the ground.”
As a key committee member in Business Studies Club, Clemens thrived on planning, running and executing student camps. For him, it was the energy, the people, the atmosphere and the freedom of expression that made TP camps truly unforgettable. “I will miss the laughter and all the unique personalities that come together to run the show,” he says.
Conscious of his role in community, Clemens was also involved in publicising Smile-a-Wish, a TP student initiative to raise money for the Children’s Cancer Foundation. He also participated in the Public Utilities Board’s Splash Lab programme, in which his team won the best creative idea for a water conservation campaign.
A recipient of the TP Freshman Scholarship, Clemens says his formula for success are the work plans that he pens down in a notebook, and incorporating fun in everything that he does.
Wanting to continue this thirst for authentic storytelling, Clemens has applied for a place at NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information. “I want to help people share their stories, especially the little details that often slip through the cracks.”
Aileen’s flair for design was obvious from her childhood days of drawing and painting. As she transitioned to Kranji Secondary School, she found herself deeply interested in the subject of Design & Technology (D&T), which anchors on design action and the application of knowledge and process skills. Aileen looked forward to each D&T lesson that allowed her to create her masterpieces. “I enjoyed the entire design process from paper to product, the creativity and the technological influences on design.”
Eager to enrol in TP’s Product & Industrial Design course, Aileen entered TP though the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP). She became a PFP ambassador and visited secondary schools to educate students about the PFP route as well as polytechnic education. These experiences boosted her confidence in leadership and communication.
As vice president of her CCA, Digital Media Crew (DMC), her impact on the team saw her eventually promoted to president, helping to organise events and bringing the team to new heights as an arts group. She introduced a visual design arm to the team which developed publicity materials. Throughout her years in the CCA, Aileen showcased outstanding servant leadership.
Indeed, she is a true team player and strong leader who never hesitates to step forward and extend a helping hand even to those beyond her team. For her contributions Aileen received consecutive Service Excellence awards at the Temasek Student Excellence Awards (TSEA) in 2018 and 2019 – twice for the CCA group she was leading, and once for her outstanding individual contributions. “Being a leader helps me uplift people as I share my skills and experiences.”
She also constantly sought new learning opportunities. Through a six-month Harvard Business Mentorship programme, she learned about leadership, business ethics and growing an entrepreneurial mind. In her final year, she joined TP Emcees as a member and discovered the versatility of her voice, as a result of speaking to different groups of audiences.
For her Major Project, Aileen’s love for plants inspired her to design a plant curtain. The idea was also to promote the idea of gardening and raise awareness about the importance of plants and how they communicate environmental changes. Another master creation of Aileen’s saw her receive the IKEA Young Designers Award (and a trip to Sweden!). For this competition, she designed a small device that can be attached to our everyday standing fan, which helps to bring down the temperature of the room while being energy-efficient.
Aileen dips her toes in every opportunity that she receives, allowing her to explore and discover her interest and strengths. As she puts it, “I really believe that you can’t stop learning since there’s always something new out there.”
Well done, Aileen! There will certainly be more successes waiting for you in the future.
In 1994, the Tay Eng Soon Scholarship Fund was established in memory of the late Senior Minister of State for Education, Dr Tay Eng Soon, who played a pivotal role in the development of polytechnic and technical education. From the fund, the Tay Eng Soon Gold Medal is awarded annually to outstanding graduates from each of the polytechnics, who graduated from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) prior to their studies at the polytechnic. The Medal was first presented at the 1995 Temasek Polytechnic graduation ceremony.
As a young boy, Zhuo Weida was more interested in friends and computer games. He never understood the value and purpose of education. His father, a retired engineer and mother, an administrative assistant, did what they could to change his attitude towards school, but he remained stubborn and playful. With an O-Level score of 37 points, his only option was to take up a Higher NITEC in Mechatronics Engineering at ITE.
Throughout his two years at ITE Central, Weida’s teachers tried to encourage him, but still he did not put effort into his studies. The wakeup call came when all five polytechnics rejected his application and he had to go into National Service. It was during his time in the army that he read the self-development book Grit by Angela Duckworth, which inspired his belief that perseverance and passion is key to overcoming life’s adversities. With his army commander’s support for deferment, Weida reapplied to TP, and got into the Diploma in Business Process & Systems Engineering.
All fired up with his new lease of life, Weida was determined to make the most of his polytechnic education. As a freshman, he found the transition after not studying for two years, challenging. He remains thankful for his lecturers who offered after-class consultations and kept him focused on his goal of a making it to university.
In his second year, Weida joined not one, but two CCAs. As vice president of both his diploma club, BIZEN, and the Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES) Student Chapter, he proved himself reliable, responsible and trustworthy. “In IES, I was among well-rounded students who motivated me to work hard,” he shares. Respected by his lecturers and peers alike, Weida was appointed president of IES in his final year. He was also actively involved in the TP LEAD programme to develop high-achieving students. Seizing every opportunity that came his way, Weida participated in the Polytechnic Forum, an ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and served as a SMART Nation Ambassador.
Describing himself as resilient, adventurous and a people-oriented, Weida also has a heart for helping others. Besides volunteering at various community events, he took part in eye-opening experiences such as a community project in Laos, where his team built a library for less privileged children, and taught them English. For his achievements in and out of the classroom, Weida received the CCA Merit Award for leadership and was placed on the Director’s List for two consecutive years.
For his internship, Weida had the invaluable opportunity of working with a project team responsible for improving hotel operations at Marina Bay Sands (MBS). Impressed by his contributions and recommendations, Weida was nominated to speak at the MBS intern graduation ceremony; another unforgettable experience. “TP developed me beyond the academics, and I never enjoyed school as much as I did at TP,” he said.
Weida graduates with an impressive cGPA of 3.93 and has been offered places at both the NUS to read Business Administration and SMU to pursue the Business Management programme.
Well done, Weida! Your story of second chances is truly inspiring, and we are so proud of you.
The CapitaLand Award for All-Round Excellence gives commendation and recognition to graduates who excel in their studies and has outstanding co-curricular activities contributions in community service. The Award is sponsored by CapitaLand Limited, one of Asia's largest real estate companies.
Passionate, people-oriented and hardworking. Say hello to Phyllis Soo Hui Min, a bubbly young lady with an infectious smile, despite having to exercise maturity and resilience from a very young age.
Coming from a single-parent household, Phyllis had even contemplated not pursuing her studies at TP due to the costs involved. Strong family support and bursaries, however, helped the St Anthony’s Canossian Secondary School alumna overcome these hurdles as she went on to become a model student with an exemplary record. “TP’s Business course gave me many options for my future, and the vibrancy and cheerful atmosphere on campus always made me feel welcome.”
Having practiced modern dance since her primary and secondary school days, it was only natural for Phyllis to pick the Temasek Polytechnic Dance Ensemble as her CCA. She would go on to perform in the group’s headline concerts, including GEM 13- Vitality and 2018 DREAMS X. However, rigorous training sessions and a demanding schedule would soon take their toll on the avid dancer and she decided to withdraw from her CCA in her second year of studies. “I felt like I was stretching myself too much and really needed a break,” she shared.
As fate would have it, this break would lead her to her calling. “I had the opportunity to go for a Youth Expedition Project in Vietnam in my second year, and it was an eye-opening experience. We helped build roads for the local community there and got to work with so many kids. It changed my mindset and made me grateful for what I had.”
Her experiences in the YEP inspired her to join TP’s Community Service Club. She would go on to be appointed its president and led the team to a whopping 13 projects over eight months. These included roadshows for the Yellow Ribbon Project and a collaboration with the Institute of Mental Health to raise awareness on mental health issues faced by today’s youth. Her strong leadership skills saw the Community Service Club reach out to a total of 2,500 beneficiaries.
She was also an active volunteer with the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS), and in community projects for the needy in Kembangan-Chai Chee estate.
This all-rounder graduates with a cGPA of 3.98, having been placed on the Director’s List and excelling during her internship at startup firm Boxgreen. “My lecturers were very supportive, and this certainly helped during times when I felt overwhelmed.”
So what’s next for this remarkable young lady? “I want to be able to give my dad a better life and lighten any burden he may have. He is someone I love very much, and I want him to be free of any worries.” Phyllis recently received a scholarship offer from NTU, and offers from SMU and NUS for places in their business programmes.
Displaying a sense of maturity and resilience that far belie her tender years, Phyllis looks set to be a leading light and an inspiration to us all for years to come.
Nimalan S/O Anbhuarasan boasts an impressive track record from his time in TP. His accomplishments include being twice placed on the Director’s List, being appointed President of the Engineering Makers Club and excelling in the Temasek Leadership Programme. He graduates with a perfect cGPA of 4.0. He attributes his success to hard work and being passionate about what he does.
“My love for aviation stems from my time at the School of Science and Technology. I was part of the Singapore Youth Flying Club for my CCA and was fortunate to win a competition called the Aero Challenge, which involved flying drones,” he shares.
TP’s partnership with globally renowned Lufthansa Technical Training sealed the deal and won him over to the Aerospace Electronics course. His start to life at TP though, was not as smooth as he had hoped for. “I was unfamiliar with hands-on skills such as soldering and had to adapt to a new learning environment.” As daunting as this was for him, Nimalan was up for the challenge. He displayed an innate ability to learn new concepts quickly and was soon in a position to impart his skills to members of the public. As president of the Engineering Makers Club, he helmed community service programmes and workshops, which taught participants skills such as gift making and 3D drawing.
His adaptability came to the fore once again during his internship at A*STAR’s Advanced Remanufacturing Technological Centre. There, he was required to test himself in unfamiliar disciplines such as Internet of Things and cloud-based computing. “I was exposed to the research aspects of engineering at A*STAR. I had a lot of catching up to do due to the new skills I had to acquire, but it all paid off eventually.” Not only did he impress his supervisors with his hard work and eagerness to learn, but his internship experience also helped reveal a newfound love for research – a passion he hopes to turn into a career in the future.
Apart from excelling in his academics, Nimalan also displays a strong willingness to give back to the community. “My father did a lot of volunteer work in his free time, and that definitely influenced me.” He volunteered for peer tutoring before going on to sign-up for a Youth Expedition Project in Myanmar, helping with the installation of solar-powered food dryers for local communities there. Buoyed by this experience, he also volunteered with the YWCA to mentor disadvantaged children.
Currently waiting to enlist for his National Service, Nimalan has received a scholarship to pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering at Nanyang Technological University. He also hopes to walk in the footsteps of Dr Abdul Kalam, a famed aerospace scientist and former President of India.
We’re all rooting for you, Nimalan!
The Ngee Ann Kongsi Most Outstanding Overcomer Award gives recognition to a student who has demonstrated strong perseverance in overcoming the odds and setbacks in life to complete the course of study with good academic records, and is exemplary in his or her conduct. It is named after the renowned charitable foundation, The Ngee Ann Kongsi, in honour of its generous contribution to TP.
It was a dream come true for Pearlyn Tan Sin Ping when she started her Accounting & Finance course in TP, for she had been on a bumpy road before that. After her PSLE results saw her posted to the Normal (Academic) stream at Pasir Ris Secondary School, Pearlyn observed how her friends studied and was motivated to better her performance. It was through sheer determination, that the youngest of three daughters of a technician and an operations support officer, entered TP’s Polytechnic Foundation Programme. Things were finally looking up, or so she thought…
She had a high fever just after starting her first year, followed by massive headaches, numbness in her feet and a tingling sensation in her fingers and toes. Then when liquid she consumed uncontrollably dripped out the side of her mouth, Pearlyn was rushed to the nearest A&E and immediately put under critical care. She was suffering from Guillain-Barré syndrome – a rare disorder where her body's immune system attacks her nerves. Over the next five days, gripped by fear and confusion, Pearlyn underwent intravenous immunoglobulin treatment as paralysis set in from her feet upwards and in half her face, impairing her ability to speak.
Pearlyn was hospitalised for four months. Apart from the medical treatment, she also underwent physiotherapy and speech therapy, ate blended food, endured sleepless nights and lost more than 10 kg in weight! Both her mother and eldest sister left their jobs to care for Pearlyn. There were many days when twin sister, Pearly, would stay the night with her, while her course mates would visit every week and bring lesson notes. So determined was Pearlyn to get back to normal life that she even insisted on doing a test from her hospital bed! The resounding desire in her head was just one goal: “I want to study”.
Pearlyn returned to school in a wheelchair with the single determination to make up for lost time and not to extend her polytechnic education by another year. With the help of an academic adviser, she doubled up on her classes while going for physiotherapy twice a week. Two months later, she progressed to a walking stick. “Everything was happening very fast but I just focused on studying,” she said. Pearlyn went on to do a successful 20-week internship with audit firm, CA Trust PAC.
“I have seen how vulnerable life is and I am so thankful for this second chance at life. I know my parents and sisters sacrificed so much for me and today, I cherish my life, my family, my time and my studies. My mother especially, suffered so much. Apart from the emotional stress, she quit her job and came to care for me in the hospital. Knowing I was afraid to be alone, she slept on a chair by my side, enduring backaches and discomfort. Yet, she never complained and would cook or buy me food I liked to eat – truly, she is my inspiration,” says Pearlyn.
Despite her traumatic experience, Pearlyn graduates with an amazing cGPA of 3.97. She describes herself as being persevering, patient and independent. She has gained admission into the accountancy programmes in Nanyang Technological University and the National University of Singapore, and eventually wants to be an auditor.
Well done Pearlyn! We know that nothing can stand in the way of your tenacious spirit!