From 149 at PSLE, he overcame hurdles to become a top graduate at Singapore Polytechnic
Mr Songkiat Ow Shiyuan now hopes to be an ITE lecturer and inspire students like himself
From scoring just 149 for his Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) to becoming one of Singapore Polytechnic's (SP's) top eight graduates this year, Mr Songkiat Ow Shiyuan has come a long way.
Born in Thailand, Mr Ow, 22, moved to Singapore with his parents when he was just a few months old.
In primary school, he spent most of his time catching grasshoppers and playing with his friends. Even after his PSLE result, he remained indifferent.
Things started to change in secondary one when he joined the student council.
His teacher at Clementi Town Secondary School later asked him to be vice-president of the council.
"Being the only Normal Technical student in the council put a lot of pressure on me to perform well. As VP, I felt I had a responsibility to be a good role model for my juniors. I started taking my studies very seriously," said Mr Ow, who is preparing to graduate from SP in May.
He buckled down and the hard work paid off.
He was the top scorer in the N(T) Level examinations in Secondary Four and enrolled in the Chemical Process Technology (Pharmaceuticals) course at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East.
Resolving to enter a polytechnic, Mr Ow studied harder than ever.
He told The New Paper: "If there was one word my friends in ITE would use to describe me, it is 'hardcore'. I studied every single day because I saw ITE as my stepping stone."
His determination and hard work paid off as he scored a perfect GPA of 4.0, which landed him a spot in SP to pursue a Diploma in Chemical Engineering (DCHE).
But life had more hurdles for him. In 2016, his grandmother died.
Mr Ow had lived with her since he was a child and he said: "Her death hit me hard. I was at a loss when I returned home. We were preparing for her funeral and I had exams the next day. My world was a mess.
"But I didn't want to let her down, so I pressed on with my revision. It was difficult but I did well for my exams. Perhaps my grandma was looking out for me."
Today, Mr Ow - who aspires to become an ITE lecturer and inspire students like himself - has amassed a list of achievements.
Other than being one of the top eight graduates in SP this year, he is also the recipient of the Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship.
Mr Ow also actively gives back to the community as a member of the Clementi Community Centre Youth Executive Committee.
His advice for those in similar circumstances?
"Think of your challenges as obstacles you need to overcome in order to grow," he said. "Life's greatest obstacle is yourself. The moment you give up on yourself, that's the end."