Following the herd instinct, Tung Kai Hong, Lucas enrolled in a JC after his ‘O’ levels – only to realise that it didn’t suit him at all. So the former Temasek Sec School student switched to Temasek Polytechnic, which not only moulded him academically, but took him out of his cocoon, grooming him from a shy and introverted individual into a confident and accomplished young man, graduating with a Diploma in Electronics (Merit), the course Silver medal, and a near-perfect CGPA of 3.99. He shares his experience…
With my Course Manager and fellow medalists on Graduation Day
In Jan 2013, after my ‘O’ levels, I boldly took the step to join the junior college (JC). I still remember how I arrived at that decision – it was no brainer, I had thought. All my secondary school classmates were headed for JC, so I just followed suit. Just follow, don’t need to worry so much, I remembered telling myself.
It was an intense three months for me in JC. I was flooded with all the theories dished out during lectures and I had to apply them in tutorials. It was overwhelming. I loved technology but I felt the need for something more practical to apply the knowledge learnt. When I was at this crossroad, I turned to my dad for advice. He suggested taking the polytechnic route. And he recommended Temasek Polytechnic (TP) as it was close to home. That day marked a turning point in my life, and I thank my dad for his great advice. I’ve never looked back since and I have no regrets, absolutely.
With my proud parents
So there I was, enrolled in the Diploma in Electronics at TP. The environment changed but not my studious nature. I was overly focused on getting the information implanted in my head. My course mates were doing just as well, but they seemed to be enjoying Poly life much more than me. Then it dawned on me that I was not fully enjoying the opportunities presented to me. Life in Poly is not only about getting good grades, but networking with like-minded individuals and acquiring life skills, and of course, enjoying oneself! I was functioning in a cocoon, but I should have been working with others. I needed to know how to get along well with people. Slowly, I left my cocoon, as I started participating in school events and meeting new people. I guess when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change too.
Who would have imagined that I would go on an Overseas Community Project to Cambodia. I have lots of stories to tell about this event. But what I will never forget is how we had to answer nature’s call in unimaginable places, and in total darkness. Those experiences took me out of my comfort zone. But I am glad I took on the challenge.
Talk about challenges. One of the most challenging things I did in TP was to design, build and programme a special flying drone nicknamed “Nightingale”, with which we won a Bronze in the Singapore Amazing Flying Machines competition in my final year. Yes, it’s hands-on in a polytechnic. That’s what I don’t get in a JC!
With my team “Nightingale” and the flying machine we built
That’s what Poly life is all about – seeing, learning and doing new things, rather than just studying and striving to do well in exams. Poly life is so different from life in a JC where I was. In a JC, the ultimate target is to do well in the ‘A’ level exams and teachers there – because they are heaped with pressure to ensure that their students do well – also pressurise us a great deal.
What is this life if, full of care, there is no time to stand and stare?
In retrospect, I've managed to debug and reprogram my thinking and my approach to life when I joined TP. I may not have weeded out all the errors yet, but I've certainly become a better programmer, a better person in life.
Though the outcome hasn’t changed, I've humbly learnt that there are so many directions that lead to the focal point. What I will take away from my years in TP are not formulae or random facts but the skills, experiences and memories which make me wiser and more confident to handle the challenges of the world ahead.
Today’s moments are tomorrow’s memories. I’ve made many memories while I was in TP – which I shall always keep with me, and revisit again in the future when I need some inspiration in the face of stress of pressure. While these memories take me back, my dreams will take me forward.
Thank you, TP, for giving me a new life and the inspiration that I need to move forward!
My awesome classmates at TP!