Thursday, June 4, 2015

Jerome Yap – Passion Trumps All

 British politician Sir Winston Churchill once said: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” 

You may think Jerome Yap’s route to success was smooth; he graduated from NYP this year with 3 awards - the inaugural Lee Hsien Loong Award, Infinite Frameworks Gold Medallist Award and Infinite Frameworks Outstanding Project Work Award. Contrary to expectations, he comes from a humble beginning, with little motivation to excel in studies in his childhood. He was only interested in drawing during classes, and thus only scored 98 for his Primary School Leaving Examinations. 

On top of that, he mixed with the wrong crowd in Secondary School, which led to him performing poorly during his GCE N Levels. Jerome’s only option was to enrol in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) for his Nitec and Higher Nitec studies respectively.

But it was in ITE that Jerome found like-minded friends that shared his passion for design. Through their encouragement, he changed for the better, persevered, and secured a place to pursue his Diploma in Motion Graphics and Broadcast Design at NYP. 

I had the honour of interviewing Jerome after his graduation, and this is what he has to say.

Jerome receiving his awards from Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education
You are the first NYP recipient to win the Lee Hsien Loong Award, what was going through your mind when you received this award?
When I first got the news, I was thinking “Is this for real?” Throughout all my academic life, I have never won any awards. So this means a lot to me. It just shows that no matter who you are or where you come from, if you put your heart and soul in what you do, you will be able to achieve what you want. 

In NYP, I didn’t aim for the best grades. I came here because I’m passionate about design, it just happened that my passion led to good grades.

Tell me more about your interest in doodling when you were younger
I used to draw a lot when I was younger, and wasn’t sociable at all. Drawing helps to express who I am.

I remember my first drawings and those were stickman drawings that anyone can do. But no matter what the drawings are, it can be developed into a storyline. In a way, it did help me to get where I am today. Now, I have the chance to make my drawings come to life, through 3D animation. 

My family was fine with me drawing when I was home. I did not do the typical revision work once I reached home from school. I sketched a lot instead. They could tell that I loved art. I also studied Design & Technology in Secondary School, which was a good experience for me as well.
Jerome's drawings
What was one valuable lesson you have learnt in ITE and NYP?
You may pick up negative vibes from others, and it can be demoralising. But nevertheless, you got to be positive, and challenge yourself to do the impossible. You can’t be always pessimistic and think ‘I can’t do it’, because in the end it’s all in the mind. 

What was the greatest challenge you faced in NYP? 
Coping with the numerous projects and building a strong team. I’m usually the one taking the lead in projects and it’s daunting trying to build a strong relationship with group members. We have worked long hours on each project and have tight deadlines. But I think the most daunting challenge was time management, because I did not know how to manage my time. 

And your greatest accomplishment in NYP?
Definitely the national scale projects, such as National Day Parade 2014, because I didn’t expect myself to be part of it. And without my incredibly crazy team, I won’t be able to complete the projects on time. So you see, teamwork was very crucial and vital to me. 

Were there any misconceptions of you as a former ITE student?
Definitely there were misconceptions. But I took them in my stride. When I came to NYP, people I’ve met knew I was from ITE. Usually my classmates recognise that I have already picked up some skills from ITE and will ask me to teach them what I learnt. So I don’t really see it negatively. 

Thankfully the people and the friends I have are very positive minded. ITE is a great institution for us to learn our fundamentals despite the fact that we aren’t academically talented. 

You mentioned once that you appreciate your mentor, Ms Sherlyn Tang, for being there for you in both academic and personal matters. Could you tell us more about her?
The great thing about Ms Sherlyn is that she’s a great person to work with. Be it academic or personal, she’s there for you. If she senses something is amiss, she expresses her concerns naturally. As a lecturer, she goes the extra mile.

For me personally, she was ready to talk to me, clear my thoughts and ensure I was coping well with the production of each project. When I was handling the larger scale projects, I did have my doubts and did not think I could meet the deadlines. She was there no matter what troubles I had. I can’t say in words how truly thankful I am for her support. 
Jerome with his Personal Mentor Ms Sherlyn Tang
What were your initial feelings when you first stepped into NYP?
It was unexpected for me to secure a place in my desired course because my ITE grades were not that good. But thankfully I got a place in NYP and I was really happy. I made a personal promise to myself that if I went to poly, I will stop riding the BMX stunt bike which I’ve been riding since Secondary 3. So I sacrificed my hobby to focus on my course.

I remember I was unprepared for my initial projects, and on top of that, I did not know what the lecturers’ expectations were. It was a shock initially but thankfully I’ve pulled through.

What are some things that you will miss about NYP?
Definitely my friends, lecturers and my classmates. We have been working in the same environment for the past 3 years and I have had wonderful memories of our time together. 

I will also miss Koufu’s chicken chop. I’ve been eating that for 3 years, almost every day, to the extent that I got to know the entire family who manages the stall - the auntie, uncle and their son and daughter.

I will miss my FYP classroom too. Because there’s air-con, and you can chill, sleep, and do anything because you have your own personal desk that you can use to work on your project.

What is one thing people do not know about you?
I don’t really show a lot of feelings. Rather, I think a lot. 
Jerome with his family and his lecturers
Any tips to survive poly life, and excel in your studies?
Have work life balance and always be positive in whatever you do. Do not ever succumb to negative comments because that will bring you down. Just keep going on. If you need to clear your thoughts or need a listening ear, just talk to your lecturers. I think they will definitely help you to survive your poly life. 

By David Lau, Year 1, Diploma in Nursing

Currently pursuing his Diploma in Nursing, David is one of the newest members in The Write Stuff (a CCA for writers and social media enthusiasts).  Being experimental and explorative, he believes that it is ok for experiments to fail because it toughens him up. When faced with failure, David believes in taking it with a pinch of salt and getting up again.

He is an artsy person, and loves musicals as well as photography. It’s best to meet him and talk to him in person to find out what he is really like.

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