Beating cancer to graduate
Ngee Ann Poly student overcomes cancer to graduate with aerospace electronics diploma
When he entered Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) three years ago, Mr Aw Meng Kit was so weak he could not even hold a pen.
He was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer then and the nausea from the treatment caused him to lose much of his strength.
On Wednesday, the 23-year-old graduated with a diploma in Aerospace Electronics, making him one of the 4,883 graduates from 47 full-time diploma courses in NP this year.
In August, he will begin a degree course in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
When he was 17, Mr Aw was diagnosed with stage three rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of muscle cancer.
He was accepted into NP in 2013, but deferred his studies for a year to undergo treatment.
Though chemotherapy was tough - the drugs he was prescribed had side effects like hair loss, nausea and made him look pale - he was motivated after he saw the resilience of younger patients going through treatment in the children's ward at National University Hospital (NUH), where he was warded.
He said: "It was heartbreaking to hear their cries, but it made me think that if a kid can go through all of that, I'm a grown man who can do it too."
The former Institute of Technical Education (ITE) student had to go through 52 weeks of treatment.
"It was painful and I threw up easily, especially in the second week. At that time, I honestly thought death was better," he recalled.
However, he persevered.
Mr Aw said: "If I have to go through this, then so be it. I have long-term goals, and I'm not one to let everything go just because of my health problems."
Mr Aw, has always dreamt of becoming a pilot and has attended aviation forums. He even built a quadcopter as part of a team for the Singapore Amazing Flying Machine Competition last year.
Mr Aw intends to enrol in flight school after university.
He attributed his successful recovery to his family and friends.
He said: "I would go through everything again since it got me to where I am today. Above all, I realised that there are always bigger things in life. Just don't give up."