Six years ago, Mr Iwan Yuliyanto left Bintan, Indonesia, at the age of 17 to pursue his education in Singapore.
Things did not go his way as he was rejected by four out of five polytechnics; only Singapore Polytechnic took him in.
He got his diploma in 2009, with a near perfect grade point average, while having to work two part-time jobs in order to afford the school fees.
He was also awarded a scholarship by SembCorp Industries to pursue a degree in accountancy at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
This year, Mr Yuliyanto, now 23, graduated with first-class honours and has also been nominated as a valedictorian of NTU's Nanyang Business School.