What drives top poly grads

Ms Prabhmeet Kaur (second from right) from Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management with (from left) her mother Sukhwant Kaur, sister Dalvin Kaur and grandmother Surinder Kaur.
Ms Prabhmeet Kaur (second from right) from Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management with (from left) her mother Sukhwant Kaur, sister Dalvin Kaur and grandmother Surinder Kaur. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Polytechnics are in the thick of graduation season and The Straits Times features some of their top achievers

Diploma opens up options, opportunities


Ms Choy, who graduated with a diploma in maritime business, has applied to NTU's maritime studies degree course, but is still undecided whether to study or work first. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

As a child, Ms Choy Yin Shan was always curious about ships.

"How do ships made of steel float on water? Where do the goods in ships go to?" she wondered. It was later in secondary school that her teachers told her about the maritime industry and Singapore's role as one of the world's busiest ports.

The former Yuan Ching Secondary School student decided to enrol herself in Singapore Polytechnic's (SP) maritime business course after her O levels, despite qualifying for junior college.

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Speech woes, but she came out tops


Ms Teo suffered a high fever when she was eight that left her hearing impaired and affected her speech development. PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

When Ms Teo Zi Lin graduates this week, she will have to face one of her greatest fears: making a speech.

The 20-year-old, who is graduating with a diploma in mass communication from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, has difficulty pronouncing consonants such as "t" and "d". A high fever when she was eight had left her hearing impaired, which affected her speech development.

Said the valedictorian, who topped her cohort with a grade point average of 3.87: "I've done public speaking only to a class of about 100, and they were my classmates. Now, I'll be speaking in front of an audience of at least 1,000.

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Not rushing into uni despite perfect GPA


Keen to explore her choices, Ms Tan plans to take a working holiday to New Zealand in November. For now, she is gaining valuable experience as a guest services executive at a boutique hotel here. PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Ms Tan Yue Ting might be graduating from Temasek Polytechnic with a perfect grade point average of 4.0, but the 20-year-old is not rushing to enter a university.

Instead, she has decided to take a gap year to work.

The valedictorian, who pursued a diploma in hospitality and tourism management, said she is more excited about her working holiday to New Zealand, which she hopes to start in November this year.

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Grandmas' cancers spur him on


Mr Ang is the valedictorian of the Diploma in Biotechnology course at Republic Polytechnic. He is fascinated by how the body's system works and hopes to become a clinical scientist specialising in cancer. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

The hardest time in Mr Royce Ang's life was after his maternal grandmother from Myanmar lost her life to cancer in 2004.

She had raised him until the age of five in Myanmar, while his parents worked in Singapore. Mr Ang's mother is from Myanmar, and his father is Singaporean.

After he moved to Singapore to start primary school, he would return to Myanmar during every school holiday to visit his grandmother.

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First ITE student in her poly course


(From left) Ms Prabhmeet Kaur; her grandmother Surinder, 78; her sister Dalvin, 27; and her mother Sukhwant, 60. Ms Kaur had to take her O levels twice as her mother had cancer, which affected her studies. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Ms Prabhmeet Kaur might be the valedictorian of Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management, but she used to lie to friends that she was from the Normal (Academic) instead of Normal (Technical) stream in secondary school.

"I was ashamed because people saw me as someone who would never succeed. So I decided to take my O levels as a private candidate to make up for that," she said.

It was around that time in 2009 that her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had to quit her job as a cashier at a petrol station.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2016, with the headline 'What drives top poly grads'. Print Edition | Subscribe