Bored of studying, he dropped out of school in Secondary 3.

Weak in his studies, the normal academic student had been retained for a year for failing his subjects when he was in Secondary 2.

But Mr Nurazhar Maarof, who turns 29 this year, will finally graduate as the top student from Nanyang Polytechnic's (NYP) Multimedia and Infocomm Technology diploma course at the end of the month.

With a perfect GPA of 4.0, he has come a long way from his early years of aimlessness.

He said: "I was rebellious and felt like I should do whatever I wanted since it was my life. I didn't think much about my future."

After quitting school, he worked as a flyer distributor, a cargo boy and took up odd jobs at an oil rig.

But at his last job as a luggage salesman after serving National Service (NS), he met a colleague who made him think about his future.

"He had many years of experience but not much qualifications so he couldn't rise up the ranks.

"I realised that no matter how many years of experience I had, I'll be stuck to a menial job," said Mr Nurazhar.

After four years earning a comfortable salary of about $2,000 a month, Mr Nurazhar decided to go back to school at the age of 24.

Despite working retail hours, he took night classes four times a week at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

"I never thought of giving up at all. All I could think of was getting to school on time," recalled Mr Nurazhar.

He spent two years as a private student at ITE, first completing his N levels, before graduating with 23 points for L1B4 (language and four best subjects) at his O levels.

This qualified him for his dream course in polytechnic, which allowed him to pursue software engineering and IT.

Mr Nurazhar had honed his interest in the field when he bought his first computer after completing NS in 2007. He taught himself skills like programming from the Internet.

When he started school, he found himself excelling.

"I had all As in my first semester. This was the first time I felt I could accomplish something, especially since I was used to 'reds' (failing grades) in secondary school," Mr Nurazhar said.

His grades came with hard work.

He spent every day of the first semester in the school library, studying even during the weekends.

"I had my fun in the past. This is the time for me to work hard now," he said.

His mother, who works night shifts at a factory, and two older sisters are moved by his achievements.

They had tirelessly encouraged him, with no avail, to get back in school after he dropped out.


His older sister, housewife Nur Asiah Maarof, 34, said: "We are all very proud. He is the only person in our immediate family to make it to polytechnic.

"All his achievements are his own efforts. He has studied very hard."

Mr Nurazhar is currently working as an associate consultant at the NCS, an info communications technology service provider, at the recommendation of his polytechnic supervisor.

He hopes to gain some work experience before furthering his studies.

He said: "Back then, I wasn't a planner but now I hope to hold a good position in a good company so my mother can retire."

This was the first time I felt I could accomplish something, especially since I was used to 'reds' (failing grades) in secondary school.

- Mr Nurazhar Maarof, 29, on scoring As for his first semester in poly