The purpose of sharing my story is to let others know me, as well as reach out to me if there are any opportunities available. I also hope that my story can help inspire those who took a hard route in life.
Scoring the second-lowest in class for PSLE, I entered a school infested with secret societies then. Being outspoken, I had a hard time in school, frequently getting roughed up. I later became an at-risk youth myself. I was the last out of my entire cohort of 205 students and dropped to the Normal Academic stream. Out of five years, I was publicly caned for three years. To the surprise of many, I became the top 5N graduate and got the best score for D&T and Combined Humanities for my GCE ‘O’ Levels.
I entered Republic Polytechnic with a score good enough for JC as my first choice. I enjoyed PBL, went on three overseas study trips, took on 10% more academic load, won a couple of competitions and scored good enough for one of the two comprehensive state universities in Singapore ranked #12 in the world. I was also one of the nominees for Valedictorian.
After my diploma, I enlisted for NS as an obese recruit. I lost 16kg over 19 weeks and achieved IPPT Gold under the old system where I had to run below 9 minutes 45 seconds. I became the “Platoon Best” and was tasked to command the passing out parade for my company comprising over two hundred recruits. I later went to OCS but requested to be taken out of the course as I struggled to comprehend whatever I was doing. I felt that we should be committed as officers to be and I was unwilling to follow the motion. I vowed to return one day if I have a better understanding. I finished NS with “Outstanding” for my performance and conduct but was not commissioned.
I later entered NTU, majoring in Computer Engineering. I left for a leave of absence and started a social enterprise, joined a law firm and a bank, then finally Outward Bound Singapore as an Instructor before returning to complete my full-time degree while working full time, taking 3 modules each semester instead of 6. By the time I graduated, I was married with a child.
I completed double minors and cleared more credits than a double degree graduate. This was another trying period of my life as I stumbled through many hurdles such as leaving my first job during my probation, being scrutinised as a potential partner for my spouse and accompanying my first child through her cancer treatment over a course of 8 months in the hospital while trying to complete my degree.
In 2021, an opportunity came for me to return and pay my dues to the nation. Over the past decade, I have been pondering the questions I had during NS and wanted to make good of my words. I returned as the oldest civilian in my batch to sign on as a regular and am on my way to being commissioned as a ME4, corresponding to the rank of a Captain. I am also pursuing a Master in Education (Developmental Psychology) under NTU (NIE). Nearing the end of my training, I was pleasantly surprised to be nominated as one of the Sword of Honour nominees, though I did not eventually win the award.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
― Mark Twain
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