Families inspired Temasek Poly’s top students
Mum quit job to look after paralysed daughter while another parent coped alone to see daughter through
Her world was turned upside down in just 24 hours when Ms Pearlyn Tan's persistent headaches turned into numbness in her legs, hands and face.
In January 2018, Ms Tan was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome - a rare disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the nerves.
Ms Tan, now 21, was in her first year at Temasek Polytechnic (TP) and recalled how frustration overwhelmed her initially.
"(Before that) I could run, I could walk, I could eat by myself but I was robbed of all that. Suddenly I was paralysed."
Overnight, Ms Tan had lost the ability to use the bathroom by herself or button her clothes.
The worst part was not being able to show her emotions.
"The muscles on my face were affected. So no matter how I tried to move my face, it would show the same expression."
For the next 11 months, Ms Tan spent her days recovering at Bright Vision Hospital with medication and physiotherapy.
She was worried she could not graduate on time. Though her hands were still recovering, Ms Tan insisted on taking a test in the hospital so she would not have to repeat the module.
As her older sister and mother quit their jobs to care for her, Ms Tan's father became the sole breadwinner of the family.
She said: "What kept me going was the thought that the only way I could repay them was to do well in my studies."
Ms Tan has since recovered and graduated this month with a diploma in accounting and finance as one of TP's top graduates, winning the Ngee Ann Kongsi Most Outstanding Overcomer Award.
Another of TP's top students is Ms Phyllis Soh, 20.
Recipient of the CapitaLand Award for All-Round Excellence, Ms Soh said she owed it all to her father who held her family together after her mum left the family when she was just two.
She said: "Growing up without a mum forced me to learn independence very early in my life. My father gave up everything and became a taxi driver so that his time would be flexible to take care of my sister and me."
Throughout her three-year course in the diploma in business, she took part-time jobs to help her father out. "He always tries his best to provide us with everything we need and I am so grateful he never gave up on us," she said.