Ryan Sen Rajagopal failed his PSLE on his first try, but the Secondary 4 Normal (Technical) student has since topped his cohort twice, including last year.
For his hard work, the 17-year-old Chong Boon Secondary student was among 825 students in Ang Mo Kio GRC's Teck Ghee Ward to receive Edusave awards from their MP, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, yesterday.
Ranging from $100 to $500, the awards recognise students' achievements in academic work, co-curricular activities (CCAs) or character.
PM Lee noted that Ryan was a consistent performer who showed himself to be a capable leader, as monitor and also class chairman. He also represented his school in multimedia competitions.
Asked for the secret to his success, Ryan said: "Work hard, focus, and don't overthink things."
His academic improvement did not come overnight. Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at age four, he did not do well in his Secondary 1 exams as he did not feel motivated.
"But the next year, I really wanted to prove to my parents and teachers that anything was possible," he said.
With his parents' encouragement, Ryan went on to top his batch in the Secondary 2 and Secondary 3 exams. His next challenge is the N levels this year. He hopes to do well and pursue business-related courses at the Institute of Technical Education next year.
Yesterday, PM Lee urged students to work hard, but also to look out for their classmates and pursue their passions, too.
"Study and do well, but also go beyond your studies to play your part. Care for your schoolmates so that you learn, share and prepare for your future, and lead others to do well, for all of us," he said.
PM Lee also met several award recipients. Upon discovering that Cassidy Tan, 12, who received three awards for her academic achievements and leadership skills, was enrolled in his alma mater National Junior College, PM Lee quipped: "That's a good school."
He also encouraged Raffles Institution student Jordan Tan, 12, to participate in more mathematics competitions. Jordan said he was grateful for the advice, but added: "I would have to think about it, as I would like to try new CCAs too."