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He finds calling from gaming

Avid gamers, Singapore Polytechnic students Goh Jin Qiang and Lam Ying Sheng told LINETTE HENG (linheng@sph.com.sg) that they naturally pursued their love for information technology and aced it

When he was in Secondary 2, Mr Goh Jin Qiang and his classmates had a showdown at a multi-storey carpark near their school - for fun.

They got caught by plain clothes policemen and were let off with a warning.

For Mr Goh, 22, the episode marked the start of his gaming days. His mother would prefer that he spent hours on the computer at home instead of hanging out with bad company.

So the Normal Academic student played games like MapleStory and Dota for hours after school every day, barely scraping together a pass in school.

But these games also sparked a long-lasting interest in information technology. Mr Goh will graduate from the IT course as one of the top students, with a GPA of 3.90, at the end of the month.

A talk by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) when he was in Secondary 3, had introduced him to the field.

Bored with textbooks, he was excited to hear of the hands-on lessons at the ITE.

"It is my style. I want to learn by doing something rather than just listening," said Mr Goh.

The third in a family of four children, Mr Goh faced objections from his elder sister and mother, who wanted him to continue and complete Secondary 5.

"Some of my friends thought I was joking at first. But once I decide on something, I just go for it," said Mr Goh.

With his N-level certificate, he qualified for a higher NITEC course and subsequently excelled in ITE.

After he discovered new IT-related interests such as web technology and animation - in which he excelled and won various competitions - Mr Goh's gaming habit waned.

With a perfect GPA of 4.0 in ITE, he decided to further pursue his passion in polytechnic. He was encouraged to do so by ITE lecturer Martin Leong, who is happy with his student's academic success.

"Many young people are IT savvy and what they need is an avenue to explore purposeful opportunities to learn, hone their skills and look forward to progression," said Mr Leong.

"And Jin Qiang has demonstrated that - he has shown determination and is able to excel."

During his time in Singapore Polytechnic, Mr Goh also realised he had an interest in creating mobile applications (app). He is working on an app that will help people to monitor the elderly, who may be living alone.

He said he might want to become an educator in future, sharing his experience with his students.

"I feel that we will have a lot of chances in life. As long as I have faith in what I'm doing, it will lead me somewhere," Mr Goh said.

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."