Student fights the odds to score at school
He has a love-hate affair with aviation.
He loves everything, from flying planes to running an airline company, but three months before his O levels in 2010, Mr Muhammad Faias received news while at Changi Airport that his father had died on a flight back from India.
Mr Furkhan Muhammed was the family's sole breadwinner.
It was a tough period but, Mr Faias, now 20, soldiered on.
With the O levels round the corner, Mr Faias fought back tears to focus on his studies.
He did well enough to get into the Aviation Management and Services diploma course in Temasek Polytechnic.
He aced his course and graduated this year with a perfect GPA score of 4.0.
Yesterday, he received the Lee Kuan Yew Award for Mathematics and Science and the Lee Hsien Loong Award for Outstanding All-Round Achievement.
His mother, Madam Najima, 46, who was at the awards ceremony, said: "I'm astonished and I'm very proud of my son."
Mr Faias said: "One of my fondest memories of my father is that he would ask me to fly him around the world should I become a pilot.
"My father believed in me and supported my dreams."
He had to give up "the simple pleasures" of being a teenager.
He said: "I used my work as a distraction and gave it my all. I stopped playing around and studied hard.
"I didn't feel much during the exams, but then reality started to kick in when my papers were done with.
"When it finally hit me, it hit hard."
But instead of letting it drag him down, he went after his childhood dream and completed ground school and flight training at the Singapore Youth Flying Club.
There, he flew a lightweight aircraft for nine months and earned his private pilot licence.
He also became the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore Aviation Youth Ambassador under a different programme.
Of his future, he said: "I want to try out being in the management team for an airline.
"If my father's death meant anything to me, it would have only pushed me to work harder so that he would be proud of me."
He wants to help diabetics walk better
INSPIRING MODEL: Mr Tay Jing Han. TNP PHOTO: KIAT TAN
He wants to help diabetics walk in his shoes.
Tay Jing Han, 18, dreams of becoming an entrepreneur making sports shoes for sufferers like him.
The Singapore Polytechnic student said: "Some shoes hurt our feet and so I want to make a pair of shoes to help other diabetic patients walk comfortably.
"The arteries in the legs are the furthest away from the heart and this may cause circulation problems and result in numbness."
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was eight, Jing Han had to restrict his diet and clock regular visits to the hospital. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, a hormone required to convert sugar and other food into energy needed for daily life.
This meant that Jing Han couldn't drink anything sweet, or even join his friends for late dinners. Instead, he had to stay home to make sure he had his injections on time.
Jing Han received the Lee Kuan Yew Award for Outstanding Normal Course Students (LKY-ONC) at the Annual Special Awards ceremony yesterday.
He was one of the award winners mentioned by Ms Ho Peng, Director General of Education at the Ministry of Education, for his steely resolve.
"One of the awardees, Tay Jing Han, has struggled with diabetes from a young age. However, he did not succumb to self-pity and continues to serve as an inspiring model for his peers," said Ms Ho during her welcome address.
On Saturdays, he takes a 30-minute bus ride to his alma mater, Jurong Secondary School, to tutor his juniors.
"Jurong Secondary School is my home and I want to return the faith the school had in me by helping the students," he said.
He also joined the BP mentoring club to help primary school students preparing for their PSLE. "I would not want anyone to follow my footsteps in primary school. I hope I can inspire these students in a way," he said.
Back then, Jing Han spent his time playing basketball and lazing around. He ended up with 186 points for the Primary School Leaving Examinations.
He later enrolled in Jurong Secondary School under the Normal Academic stream.
Even after contracting a lung infection in secondary three, Jing Han refused to give up.
He said: "The insulin jabs were already so expensive and for my parents to put me through education, I felt like I did not cherish their many sacrifices."
He studied hard, scoring an L1R4 of seven for his O levels.
Jing Han receives a bursary under the Community Development Council/Citizens' Consultative Committee-Polytechnic Bursary scheme for low-income households.
It is co-funded by the Government.
Jing Han is now pursuing a diploma in business administration.
- KIAT TAN