Singapore Poly scholars overcome the odds
One's mother has depression, another never had good grades
He was only nine when his father died, and his mother later fell into depression.
That was the beginning of Singapore Polytechnic (SP) student Dean Lim's series of hurdles in life.
The 18-year-old told The New Paper his mother's mental health worsened when he was in Primary 6, the year he took his Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE).
He said she threw tantrums, shouted at him and his grandmother and caused a scene almost everyday.
Together with his grandmother, who is in her late 70s and has been living with him, they took his mother to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to treat her illness.
"I did not have a lot of time to study and even if I did, I could not focus because there were a lot of things on my mind," he said.
His PSLE results took a hit, but he was thankful he managed to get into a Normal Academic class in Pasir Ris Secondary School.
His mother, who is now in her 40s, was discharged from IMH after his PSLE, and Mr Lim took the opportunity to improve on his academics, saying he wanted to make his grandmother proud.
He said: "My grandmother was always stressed, and I did not want to worsen her worries."
He achieved a raw point of six for his N-level exams and entered SP's diploma in energy systems and management through the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP).
He is in his first year and has attained a grade point average of 3.86 for his first semester.
Last week, Mr Lim received the SP Engineering Scholarship.
He was among 62 recipients of various SP scholarships this year.
He told TNP that it was a humbling experience to have gone through so much and still managed to come out tops.
"I learnt that it is important to persevere and remain positive," he said.
Miss Jayne Chan, 20, who was also a PFP student, received the SP Sports and Arts Scholarship.
She said: "I used to cheer my friends on when they became scholars and I never expected to receive a scholarship."
The second-year visual effects and motion graphics student told TNP she was an average student in secondary school.
She was considered playful and never obtained good results.
She said her focus was on sports instead of studies and she struggled to cope.
She was part of her school's basketball team, as well as the national basketball team. However, she sustained a knee injury in 2017.
In the PFP, Miss Chan bloomed. She picked up time management tips and was able to balance studies with her love for sports.
She tried out for the national women's rugby team after recovering from the injury in 2017 and has been on it since.
"Usually, students get a scholarship based on their academic excellence, instead of their sporting endeavours so I feel very proud and satisfied," she said.