Friday, January 24, 2014

The Art of Balancing - More than Meets the Eye

Second Year Nursing students Chew Chi Yao (above, left) and Rachel Lim (above, right) are masters at the art of balancing. They not only balance work, school, social activities, but also their relationship with each other. Yes, they are dating, and met each other through their CCA – Cheerleading.

The pair is not just great at their CCA, but they are also familiar faces on their School’s Director’s List, which recognises students with outstanding academic records.

I decided to meet them in person so as to discover how and why they click. For a start, they exhibited such an amazing chemistry, almost like a perfect couple.   Here’s what they have to say.

Why did you choose Nursing?
Rachel: My mother is a nurse, and she would usually tell me about her work in nursing. It sounded like a lot of fun. Furthermore, it is a hands-on course which I enjoy. The other reason is that I enjoy interacting with patients.

Chi Yao: I aspire to be a paramedic or combat medic. So I thought that this was the best route for me. I like to be able to save people.

Chi Yao, there are more female nurses than male nurses. Do you feel different for being one of the few men in this profession?
I do not have any concerns, as this is what I want to do. It does not bother me what others think. Doing this gives me a great sense of fulfilment.

Do you like caring for others?
Both: Yes, and we will go the extra mile if it’s within our means.
What are some difficult situations you have come across as a nurse and how do you deal with them?
Rachel: Since it is part of my job, I approach all my duties professionally. I think one of the challenges is learning how to answer the questions that patients’ families and relatives pose to you.

Chi Yao: Yes, we will try our best to answer them. But if we can’t, we will refer them to senior nurses. It is also difficult to shift a patient from the bed to the wheelchair and vice versa especially if he/she is heavy or has mobility issues.

What keeps you going in your line of work?
Chi Yao: Gaining more knowledge in the medical field. We have external attachments every semester. We learn new skills as the postings are always different. There is a gradual learning curve, so it’s much easier to absorb the information. Also, the more we know the more we can help. It also gives us a great sense of achievement when we help someone.

Now let’s move on to another topic: your CCA. Some students believe that CCAs are not necessary in polytechnic. What do you think of this?
Rachel: I think having a CCA may put you at an advantage when you apply to get into a university, as you may stand a better chance than another candidate with your same grades but without CCAs. You can also develop your social life when you get to know people through your CCA.

Chi Yao: I think by joining a CCA, you get to learn new out-of-classroom skills, especially people skills.

Chi Yao lifting Rachel during a Cheerleading display
Why did you join Cheerleading?
Both: We saw the stunts performed at the Club Crawl (the annual CCA fair) and thought that it was quite “cool” and decided to try out for it.

What CCAs were you from in Secondary School?
Rachel: We were both from Chinese Orchestra in our respective secondary schools, but Chi Yao was also a member of the National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC).

Were your parents supportive of you joining Cheerleading as a CCA? 
Both: They do worry about us, because they think there’s an element of risk involved, but they will still attend our performances. They will still pay for our uniforms and our annual overseas trip to Bangkok University, where we train with the university’s cheerleading team and pick up tips from them.

What are your training times like? 
Both: We train three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
It starts at 6:30PM and ends at 9:30PM. But most of the time we end at 10 or 11pm. By the time we get home, it’s almost 12AM.

What are some values that you found particularly useful to you during your time with the Cheerleading team?
Both: Trust, commitment, respect, a sense of responsibility and self -discipline.
Chi Yao (second row, first from the left) and Rachel (front row, first from right) with their team
What are some of the interests and beliefs that you both share?
Chi Yao: We’re both people who prefer to do things at the last minute. So to us it doesn’t matter when you do it as long as you do it.

Since you are in a relationship, were you ever worried about neglecting your schoolwork or friends?
Both: No. We know each other’s schedule well, so we usually try to work around it. We spend the same amount of time together since we see each other so often, and we still continue to meet our friends and spend time with our family.

Being in the same CCA, do you think that your arguments will affect your performance at practices?
Rachel: We either resolve it before or after practice. When we’re on the mat, we put everything else aside and focus on our routine.

Chi Yao: The routine is also about effort of the team. If we don’t focus during practice or the performance, it’ll bring the team down. It’s very selfish.

What were some challenges you faced in school and how did you both cope with them? 
Rachel: When Nationals (for cheerleading) are approaching, training sessions become tougher because it’s more frequent and the training duration is longer. Usually, it clashes with our exams. So usually we’ll study before attending trainings. We plan early by studying the harder modules ahead of time. We also make it a point to study together when exams are near. Sometimes we seek help from friends.

Chi Yao: To add to the challenges, I also have an external commitment in NPCC as a Cadet Inspector (CI) in my secondary school. There’s a lot of coordination involved. As a CI, I’m in charge of training the new batches. I’m also an area coordinator for six secondary schools and help to organize camps in Pulau Ubin for the schools.

Having braced these obstacles, any words of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers?
Rachel: Plan your time well and know what you’re getting into. If you’re not willing to commit, then be honest and tell the person-in-charge. Otherwise problems will arise. Also, study the heavier modules first.

Chi Yao: Be responsible for your actions. Since you chose your path, give it your best. If you like what you’re doing, there shouldn’t be any problems.

What are your plans for the future? 
Rachel: I plan to continue to study Nursing.

Chi Yao: It’s the same for me too. I might consider an advanced diploma since it allows you to specialise in one area. I may also consider getting a Nursing degree from University Of Manchester under the Singapore Institute of Technology’s programmes. The study path is shorter and more specific too.

Images contributed by Chi Yao and Rachel.

Thank you for your time Rachel and Chi Yao!

By Chua Khai Woon (Year 3, Diploma in Banking and Financial Services)


Watching movies and reading are among some of Khai Woon’s hobbies. Above all, she enjoys listening to music and likes writing.  She is also a member of the NYP Symphony Orchestra. She believes life should be unpredictable, because that is the only way it will be exciting.

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