Like they say, behind every successful man is a woman. With his life plunging downhill, Loo Jian Han made a dramatic U-turn to become one of the top students in his Diploma in Electronics course and in the process, win the prestigious Tay Eng Soon gold medal awarded each year to the best student who was formerly from an ITE. Find out what happened…
Have you heard of the “good boy turned bad, then turned good again” fable? If not, then well, I am one living example, and this is my story. I was like any normal student in school, not terribly outstanding, but I did Ok. I guess things began to change for the worse when I was in Sec 2. One day, I met a girl in my estate, and we sat down in the basketball court to chat harmlessly. At that point, her boyfriend came along, and punched me in a fit of jealousy. I was just chatting harmlessly with her. I didn’t do anything wrong, I felt. The hurt, anger and humiliation from that incident caused me to become rebellious. From that day, I kind of turned cynical about everything and eventually started playing truant, mixed with bad company and got involved in fights, sustaining numerous serious injuries in the process.
You might ask, what is there in the event that could actually turn me into a bad boy? I wanted to be strong to fight for my rights, I wanted to be the “boss” that will lead others, and I wanted to be the one to never be bullied by others. Lastly, I did not want to be inferior to others.
Totally losing interest in my studies after that incident, I gave up throughout my ‘N’ Level examinations. I even slept right through my ‘N’-level Principles of Accounts exams at Yuying Sec School and got a zero for the paper. Thus, my ‘N’-level exam results opened only one door to me – to study at ITE. Not that going to an ITE was bad, but I mean, my classmates were all talking about going to a Polytechnic. Well, ok, I thought, everyone is different, so let’s just do it.
So I joined the ITE and there, my poor attitude to studies continued. I had no motivation to study, I just wanted to be done with education and head out to work. “What we study in school can’t be used in real life”, was what I used to tell myself last time.
One day during my second year at ITE, I took on a part-time sales job and there I met this girl, who eventually became my girlfriend. She was then about to start her Business diploma course in TP. I guess you could say that love changed my life. I felt that I was not up to being her equal. I was also challenged by the deep desire to be as competent as her, and to be able to provide for her in future. Yes, I must admit, sometimes, I did feel that I was inferior when I was with her; she’s so much smarter and more competent than me, I thought. This woke me up to reality and I resolved to change for the better. I wanted to make sure that her parents can be proud of me and know that I am able to take care of their daughter in the future.
Having said that, my parents played a major role too. They sat me down and talked to me about my future. Ok, so you want to be able to provide for your girlfriend in future, right? You don’t want to have to depend on her to bring home the bacon, do you? So why don’t you do something for yourself? Their probing questions coincided with what I felt exactly.
From that day, I started studying hard. I wanted to make my parents and girlfriend proud of me and know that I am someone who will be willing to change for the better. I worked hard. True enough, I graduated with a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 3.92 in my Higher NITEC (Electronics Engineering) exams – good enough to be admitted directly into the second year of the Diploma in Electronics diploma course at TP. I was really pleased when I saw that my efforts had not been wasted. After completing my 2 years in National Service, I started my Diploma in Electronics course at TP.
The rest, as they say, is history. I continued to work hard at TP and graduated with a CGPA of 3.95, winning the prestigious Tay Eng Soon gold medal at the same time! (This medal is awarded to the best performing Engineering student who was formerly from an ITE.)
At times, I will look back fondly on the day that my love changed my life. Whenever I recollect, I remember that day when I first set eyes on my girlfriend in my part time job. All through the thick and thin, she never gave up on me; she motivated me by telling me that I could do even better than her in studies. She was there when I was down and out, and she is here when I am happy. I fell like a “new man”, because I have changed and I am free from my painful past. Now, I look forward to beginning my Electrical Engineering degree course at NUS and – of course – to tying the knot with my girlfriend.