Friday, June 10, 2016

Know What You Want Before ‘O’s

Sock Hong on her graduation day
Most secondary 4 and 5 students would be looking forward to a long holiday after finishing their ‘O’ levels, but not students who applied for Direct Polytechnic Admission (DPA) before their ‘O’ levels.

One such student who had chosen this route is Seah Sock Hong, who graduated from NYP this year with a Diploma in Molecular Biotechnology with Merit. She is also a bioMeriux gold medal winner and one of the top students in her course. Sock Hong has chosen to enter polytechnic through the DPA route as it guarantees her a spot even before her ‘O’ levels and hence she felt that she was under less pressure during her examination.

She chose to take up the Diploma in Molecular Biotechnology (DMB) as she has always been passionate about science, and has liked it since primary school. Sock Hock believes that all knowledge of science cannot be attained from just textbooks, and that a polytechnic will provide real life experiences through practical lessons and internship. NYP’s DMB caught her eye as she is fascinated by biology, genes and DNA.

Ironically, she wasn’t a biology student back in secondary school and did not know what DNA stood for. But fortunately, under the DPA Polytechnic Preparatory Programme, she had a head start and was exposed to various lessons that helped to broaden her knowledge.

During orientation camp at NYP, Sock Hong also got to know students from different Schools. These people have also become her best friends in NYP, and she could count on them emotionally whenever she faced any difficulties.

Juggling Commitments  

On top of managing her studies and co-curricular activities, Sock Hong was also challenged with additional responsibilities such as chairing community projects like the Senior Citizens’ Party with Thye Hua Kuan Moral Society and the Science Carnival at Children Cancer Society in 2015.

Even during school holidays, she was busy helping out with many other programmes and events. These sometimes clashed with her lesson timings resulting in her missing out in a lot of school work, and she would need to work doubly hard to catch up with the help of her lecturers and classmates.

Sock Hong also need to make necessary sacrifices to make time for her more important tasks at hand, such as quitting certain CCAs when she knew she could not cope. No matter how well she planned, there were times that she could not make it for training days. Despite that she still managed to be part of the floorball school team and even represented NYP in the POL-ITE tournament.

However, she does not see these commitments as a burden, but rather an opportunity for her to reach out to the young and old, and help her School in any way she can.

I was astounded at how busy and packed her schedule was. When I asked how she managed so many tasks, she explained that it all boils down to time management for efficiency and making some necessary sacrifices on less important matters. All in all, time is important to her and what she wants is to manage time well and not waste any of it.

Life in NYP however was not a bed of roses for Sock Hong. She stated that she has failed countless practicals in lab and even during her internship days. She remembered that bioinformatics was tough for her as she had to understand IT, therefore she listens attentively in class and follows every single step her lecturer has taught. During her internship, whenever she conducted an unsuccessful experiment, she was required to re-do it time and time again.

Dealing with failures is never easy, Sock Hong mentioned that the first step to improving oneself is to admit the failure and your part in it instead of blaming it on others. She also commented that she was always open to advice and will actively seek it from lecturers, mentors or supervisors, as they are able to guide her better through experience.

Sock Hong has shared with us a piece of advice: “In NYP, embark on a journey and learn as much as you can.”

And for future EAE students, she encourages them to choose wisely and choose a route that best fits themselves!

From 2016, EAE has replaced the DPA route, and successful applicants are no longer required to go through the Polytechnic Preparatory Programme. Instead, they will begin school at the same time with students from the JAE route.

By Christopher Teo Yu Yuan, Diploma in Medicinal Chemistry

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A smile is a curve that sets things straight.


Never be afraid to try. Even if we fail, there is no better way to live. Continue to pursue to what you truly love to do. Christopher is living life seeking thrills and hopes to be able to use science to save lives and bring hope to other people.

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