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Former rebel scores perfect GPA at poly

Twenty-year-old Lam Ying Sheng admits that he was a rebel without a cause during his secondary school days.

He failed most of his subjects, played truant and got into fist-fights regularly.

He spent almost 10 hours a day playing games like Warcraft and MapleStory, and met online friends who tried to get him involved in gang activities.

"I liked the feeling of rebelling against authority. It also helped that I was shrewd enough to escape unscathed all the time," recalled Mr Lam.

But Mr Lam is a changed man now.

He will graduate from the Financial Informatics course at Singapore Polytechnic with a perfect GPA of 4.0. He is also an active volunteer and joins school activities.

He had a wake-up call in Secondary 4, when a tutor asked him point-blank: "What is your purpose in life?"

After that, Mr Lam decided to change. He said: "I started to see the purpose of things. I decided to try to understand what I was learning instead of just memorising."

It worked. Mr Lam did well enough to qualify for his dream course in polytechnic, which involved both finances and information technology.

"My mum worked in a bank and she told me about the money to be earned.

"I was always interested in IT and it was my teenage fantasy to become a game designer and this was close."

His three years in polytechnic changed him mentally and physically.

He used to be overweight - weighing 68kg standing at 160cm - in secondary school. He now weighs 53kg and his height is 169cm.

After an overseas volunteer trip in Laos, where he struggled to carry bags of rice uphill in a village, he realised that it was time to get fit.

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He started to go to the gym, three times a week, for two hours each time.

"I used to drink two cans of carbonated drinks a day, but now I completely avoid soft drinks," he said.

"I feel better about myself, and I'm more confident and alert. I feel sharper and it helps in my studies."

Mr Lam was also part of the school's outreach programme, where he met people from all walks of life.

His tutor from Secondary 4, Mrs Esther Tay, 45, was pleasantly surprised to hear about his change.

"He was a quiet boy and quite an introvert, but I could tell that he was rebellious," she said.

"My words were like bitter medicine and I never expected them to have a long lasting effect on him."