Monday, September 1, 2014

Hui Juan: a Modern Day Hero

Sometimes we forget that there are modern day heroes among us, even in Singapore. Take Kang Hui Juan, a second year student, from the Diploma in Electrical Engineering with Eco-Design, for example.

Hui Juan is suffering from congenital heart defect, in particular, a structural defect in her great arteries. Her parents were told that she could not survive even a day after birth. However, even though her heart condition made her extremely fragile the first few months of her life, she has managed to pull through.

Hui Juan
As an infant, she was hospitalized for several weeks in critical condition in the pediatric intensive care unit because she had difficulty breathing. She had a balloon atrial septostomy (a technique used to enlarge a hole between the right and left atrium of the heart to improve oxygenation of the blood) operation four hours after she was born, and an arterial switch jatene (a surgical procedure to correct the transposition of great arteries) operation when she was a week old. Unlike other babies who were discharged after a few days, she stayed for a month on life support.

Her parents did their best for her, spending every minute at her bedside in Intensive Care. They had no idea if it was day or night. Their world was in front of them. They were determined to be as upbeat as possible.
Despite this liability so early on in her life, Hui Juan persevered and went through many surgeries to keep herself alive. She would have to follow up with doctors for the rest of her life.

Her mother is the sole breadwinner of the family, and the numerous surgeries led to financial difficulties for the family. Hui Juan receives a bursary due to her good conduct and academic results. However, she still tries to take on part time jobs to help her mother lessen her work load and family expenses.

“My mum is the key person who made me who I am today. I am very grateful towards my mum for all she had done for me through the years,” she said.

Hui Juan and her mother
Since year one, she has taken on jobs in F&B, administration, retail, and  is currently also a tutor in a tuition centre, teaching students from Primary 1 to Secondary 4. She also provides one to one coaching in mathematics.

Apart from her tutoring work, she also helps out in her School’s peer tutoring group. She is one of 10 mathematics student coordinators, and has been helping to coordinate tutoring groups since year 1.

“Whether it’s a good or a better thing, I’ve always trusted that everything happens for the best reasons. I know that God would not put us through situations that are out of our abilities to conquer,” she said. “Similarly in academic issues, our lecturers wouldn’t test us on what wasn’t taught to us.”

Despite her condition and her work and school commitments, Hui Juan tries to find time to do activities she loves. She lives in Bukit Merah, and does not mind the hour-long bus and train commute to school.

She volunteers as a tutor every Saturday at her church which she visits regularly.  She also joins co-curricular activities on Campus, such as NYP French Club and Percussion group due to her love for French culture and music.

Hui Juan also enjoys listening to acapella music and reading novels, self-help books and biographies. Her dream is to form ten-strong acapella group as she was a chorister in her Primary and Secondary schools. She also plays the guitar when she has free time.

Hui Juan has many dreams. She studied Electrical Engineering with Eco-Design because she wanted to help people in third world countries and learnt to build facilities for them. She also wishes to adopt or sponsor children from third world countries, so that she can help them to become successful graduates so that they can help their own families back home.

She hopes that these children will carry and pass on her dreams on to the next generation.

“I personally believe that a positive attitude is the key attribute to a good life. Never ever be envious of someone else’s life, this kind of jealousy would result in ruining yourself. It would definitely be difficult if you always think negatively,” she said. “To live life right is probably the hardest thing for anyone to achieve, but I believe that it is something everyone should be working towards to.”

Seeing Hui Juan today, you wouldn’t know she had such a rough start in life.

By Tay Jia Min, Year 2, Diploma in Electrical Engineering with Eco-Design

Jia Min is doing her Diploma in Electrical Engineering with Eco- Design. Other than reading novels and watching television shows, she also enjoys folding origami and listening to music during her free time. 

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