Blind JC student's dream to become literature teacher
Pioneer JC student hopes to achieve next goal after taking five years to complete junior college
It has taken a long and arduous five years to complete her junior college education, but Miss Charmaine Tan, 21, finally did it.
The petite Pioneer Junior College student collected her A-level results yesterday. They were not straight As, but she is contented.
Her mother, Madam Lee Siew Chow, said in a separate interview: "I've never seen her so happy than when she came in second in primary school.
"This time, I can hear it in her voice. I'm very grateful. It's been a long journey for her."
Born a healthy baby, Miss Tan started losing her eyesight when she was just two.
The youngest of three siblings was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a retinal dystrophy in which cells that transmit light to the brain fade and die.
At 13, she was taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital after bouts of dizziness, appetite loss and vomiting.
There, doctors found that only 10 to 20 per cent of her kidneys were functioning, and she was required to go through 10 hours of dialysis at home after school daily.
When she was 16, her vision deteriorated to just 5 per cent of normal vision - a sudden dip from the previous 20 per cent.
Her kidneys could not cope and her blood pressure shot up. The pressure on her optic nerves worsened her sight.
Two years ago, she was hospitalised for three months due to a severe bacteria infection and she became completely blind.
"I can only see light now," said Miss Tan, who spoke to The New Paper after her dialysis session.
She navigates with a walking stick, which she has been relying on since her secondary school days.
Her health conditions meant she had to be retained twice for the second year of junior college.
Still, she persevered.
She studied with the help of a software that read out her notes and one of her older brothers would also records notes for her to listen to during her revisions.
Miss Tan said that while it got tiring sometimes, and she had shed tears of frustration, the thought of giving up never crossed her mind.
"When something is very hard to get, you will cherish it. For me, I cherish my opportunity to get an education, to fulfil my dream.
"I nearly lost the chance of achieving my dream multiple times, so feeling the need to cherish what I have is more intense for me," said Miss Tan.
"You have to face your problem. You can't be a coward. That's what I do... I guess we all have to talk to ourselves in our own mind to keep ourselves strong."
Now that she has achieved her goal of completing her A levels, she hopes to achieve her next dream of becoming a literature teacher.
She said: "Since young, I've always told myself I want to be a literature teacher.
"I can't imagine a life without fulfilling my dream, or without trying at least. So I never gave up my dream. It's a scary thought for me to give up."
Madam Lee said: "Now she's one step closer to her dream. I pray for her to be able to achieve it without any more obstacles."