NYP graduate worked 12-hour shifts during holidays to help with family finances
Last week, he graduated as the top student in his course and was a recipient of the Lee Kuan Yew Award, but when he was in secondary school, it did not look like he would achieve that.
"I didn't study a lot when I was younger and almost didn't make it to poly," said Mr Lau Jun Wei, 19, who completed a diploma in aeronautical and aerospace technology at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP).
While he was a student there, he worked different jobs, including pulling 12-hour shifts as a warehouse assistant, during his school holidays, to help with his family's finances.
Mr Lau told The New Paper that to stay on top of his school work, he would find any free time he had to revise.
He said: "I would read through my notes after work before I went to sleep or on the bus on the way to work."
In August, Mr Lau will be representing Singapore in the international WorldSkills competition in Kazan, Russia.
It is a skill-based platform competition for youth, in different sectors, and Mr Lau will be participating in aircraft maintenance.
Having been through 1,000 hours of training before he competed for the gold medal in Singapore, he feels a huge sense of pride when he looks at the medal as it reminds him of everything he has been through.
He told TNP: "Now I'm both excited and nervous about representing Singapore in Russia. It is a huge honour and I don't want to fail my country, but it is also for myself and I shouldn't stress myself too much. I am very confident with my training and being the top three may be possible."
Mr Lau did not tell his parents about his awards, and they were completely surprised at his graduation.
He said: "They were so shocked and proud of me, they both didn't expect me to achieve so much because I wasn't good in my studies when I was younger."
Juniors of Mr Lau have started sending him messages to tell him that they want to follow in his footsteps.
He said: "I'm very proud that I can be a role model, I never thought that it would ever be possible."