“When I was in secondary school, I had really bad conduct and was known for my poor attendance. I would never have imagined that I’d be here today, graduating with a diploma and being a recipient of the Lee Kuan Yew Award.

I didn’t enjoy student life back then; I didn’t even see the point of having an education. I would skip school because I was more concerned about making new friends and learning how to network and socialise. As the truancy got worse, I was almost expelled before my ‘N’ Level exams.

Mr Ho Fu Chew, who was my vice principal at the time, gave me two options – I could either get expelled, or start attending school regularly. Looking back, I’m very thankful for the chance to start over and work hard for my exams; I don’t think I’d be here otherwise.

Given the short amount of time I had left before my papers, I had to study hard every day. I was so far behind, I couldn’t even do basic algebra. My teachers really helped in guiding me along. Thanks to them, I managed to score 14 points for my ‘N’ Levels. I also did well for my ‘O’ Levels the following year.

Poly life? The learning curve was steep when I went to Nanyang Poly (NYP). I chose to study Medicinal Chemistry because I was intrigued by the challenge of synthesising drugs. I’ve always showed favouritism to the sciences, anyways. Even in secondary school, I’d fail all my other subjects, but I’d always get a borderline pass in science.

But beyond academics, poly life really helped in developing my character. Ever since I got straight ‘A’s in Year 1, my personal mentor Ms Lye Pek Ling gave me lots of opportunities to join camps and take on student leadership roles. I’ve grown into the person I am today because of my three years at NYP.

The plan now? I’ll be enlisting for National Service this July. After which, I really hope to get a scholarship to attend a local university. Once I’m done with school, I plan to work for the Singapore Police Force (SPF).

When I was younger, I never cared when my teachers lectured me, but when a police officer talked to me, I was all ears. Now, I want to join the SPF so that I can guide teenagers who’ve lost interest in their studies. But I’m still pondering if i should be on the front lines or join forensics – we’ll see.” – Ray, 21

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