Stories of 2015 A-Level Top Scholars
Student of the Year, Top Student of the Year and award recipient for the Edusave Character Award
When asked about her role as House Captain of Pegasus, Laura beamed proudly and listed several key college events she was involved in: Orientation, SR Friendship Games, and Teachers’ Day celebrations. These experiences came with valuable lessons and precious memories. She says, “I learnt to adopt beyond just one perspective. I made many good friends who taught me many things, such as selflessness”.
Throughout her journey in SRJC, things were not always smooth sailing. Laura suffered from frequent migraine attacks and had to miss school on many occasions. Juggling her duties as a Student Councillor and the demands of a student was indeed challenging. But as Laura, with her energetic positivity, sums it up: “It was tiring definitely, but fun”.
When asked about her studying strategies, Laura shares that she would make a cheat sheet for each topic. She would summarize the key concepts and compile them into what she calls a “Mindmaps Bible”. She says, “Many students do not know the importance of making your own notes. They are user-friendly, because you’ve made them yourself. It also helps you to see the big picture.”
She expresses her gratitude towards her teachers, Ms Sabrina Teo and Ms Mabel Wang, “I really felt their passion and dedication, and that inspired me to do well”. She also appreciates the effort the teachers have put in to make learning fun and personal.Laura mentions that wanting to make her family proud was one of the reasons she desired to do well. Through stressful times, her family members supported her in their special own ways. Finally, Laura is a firm believer that motivation for success must come from within oneself. To fellow SRJCians, she advises, “Live for yourself, and not for others”.
Ng Kok Jun
Award recipient for the Thomas Tan Shield and Top Student of the Year
“You have to believe in yourself before you can achieve something.” This realisation dawned upon Kok Jun when he successfully completed the 10km Will Run in his first year in SRJC. “With the progressive training that we received during PE lessons, I realised that running 10 km was not as hard as I had thought.” This is a principle he also applied to the pursuit of his academic goals, where he consistently made improvements on his weaker subjects by seeking consultations from his tutors.
One teacher who was integral to his success was his civics tutor, Ms Cindy Ong. “She kept on telling us to strive for the best and to not give up when the going gets tough.” He also commended the efforts of his teachers, who always made time for consultations after school and who always provided students with well-prepared notes and practice papers. Kok Jun also acknowledged the stalwart support of his family, who constantly affirmed him in his times of stress.To his juniors, Kok Jun advises, “Make sure you consult your tutors if you have any doubts about what you’re learning, and don’t be complacent if you’re doing well.”
Tan Jia Xin
Award recipient for the Jenny Yong Shield and Top Student of the Year
For Jia Xin, SR life was an enjoyable one because she looked to her CCA for balance against the rigorous JC curriculum. A key player in the SR Touch Football team, she trained three times a week during competition seasons. Recognising her heavy CCA involvement, Jia Xin took special care to be more disciplined in her studies and to make good use of the time that she had by completing her homework in school and doing her revision at home.
She created a positive environment by surrounding herself with friends with similar goals, who spurred each other on towards their achievement of their goals. She also attributed her success to the efforts of teachers who never gave up on her, and who helped her become the person she is today.”To her juniors, Jia Xin shares this nugget of advice, “Do your best and never give up. Believe in yourself and have no regrets.”
Teo Wei Qiang, Samuel
Award recipient for the Kok Chwee Kee Shield
As a young and unassuming man, Samuel was unabashed in admitting that his journey in SR was nothing sort of a rollercoaster ride. Despite being one of the top scorers at the 2015 A level Examinations, he admits that he did not always do so well in school, particularly in his first year as he had a tendency to be distracted and lacked motivation to push himself further. However, the turning point for him was his less than ideal Promotional Examination results which motivated him to work harder in his second year.
He began to seek the advice of his teachers on how he could better manage his time and be less distracted. He noted that learning how to delay gratification was important in helping him to manage his time better. Samuel was quick to share that this change did not happen overnight and to find the motivation to hang on proved to be difficult as JC2 revealed itself to be even more challenging than JC1. Support from his friends and family kept him going even during challenging periods. His teachers, Ms Sabrina Teo, Ms Eunice Goh, Ms Jocelyn Seah, Ms Lai Peck Chai and Mr Chieu Ker Jim were instrumental in his learning and improvement as they constantly encouraged him.Samuel has the following advice for his juniors - “The pain you’re experiencing is temporary but the rewards are permanent. No matter how undesirable the pain is, it too, will come to an end.”
Toh Sheng Rong
Top Student of the Year
Early on in his JC life, Sheng Rong was unsure about whether he could do well. He also struggled with a habit of computer gaming. He was able to get rid of the addiction, but soon became hooked on mobile games. To overcome this challenge, he mentioned that he started to study in the school library instead of at home. The conducive environment, together with company of his friends, provided support throughout stressful times.
Consistency is key, as Sheng Rong advises, “Study for every test, finish all your homework on time. Whenever you are in doubt, ask your teachers because they will help you.”
Sheng Rong is appreciative of his teachers’ dedication and remembers his Physics teacher, Mrs Chua-Loo Wee Ping, who would always answer all queries after class, even if it meant having less time for her break. Sheng Rong cites his sister’s pivotal role in his success. She would tutor him in Mathematics, Chemisty and Economics. “She’s hardworking,” Sheng Rong shares, “and she has done well in most, if not all, of her exams.” She is truly an inspiration and a good role model to him.To his fellow SRJCians, Sheng Rong leaves a note of encouragement: “SRJC teachers are here to help.”
Choong Wei Tzen
Award recipient for the Dr Yeo Sze Ling Award
“SRJC is very tiring and stressful, just like any other JC. There were many tests, assignments, exams and PW deadlines to meet. However, it was fun as I met friends with the same interest in science, maths and gaming. Although work was difficult, we managed to solve the challenging questions together.” This is how Wei Tzen remembers his journey in Serangoon Junior College.
Despite having a heart condition, Wei Tzen never let his challenges get in the way. He shared that it serves as a motivation to do well and makes him realise that life is both precious and vulnerable. Last year, he was diagnosed with Arrhythmia and had a pace maker implanted which will send a jolt of electricity through his body whenever his heartrate accelerates too quickly. These occurrences were particularly frequent during tests and examinations and often resulted in high levels of anxiety, preventing him from sleeping at times as well as focusing during the day, especially during exams. When asked how he managed to overcome this challenge, he candidly replied, “I just do not think about it and carry on with my life.”Wei Tzen shares that he views stress differently - he sees it as an obstacle to his own success. Ultimately, he wants to be able to enter a university and faculty of his choice. In getting there, he believes that the focus is to overcome the obstacles in life. He is thankful for the caring teachers and supportive school environment for catering to his medical needs.
Chang Cheng Ting, Vivian
“I would describe my journey in SRJC as different as I was previously from an all-girls and convent school (CHIJ Toa Payoh). SRJC taught me a lot about what it means to be a family in school. I was happy with my O-Level results of L1R5 6 points, but I chose to come to SRJC. The atmosphere in SRJC is much better than the other schools that I visited during the open house - SRJC was a better fit.”
She explains, “There was not one thing, but a sum of everything that contributed towards my growth and learning in SR. It was the whole SR experience. Even though there were times when things that did not go so well, they too helped to shape me to become a better person.”
Vivian shared that her secret to academic success was getting sufficient sleep as she needed to have a clear head while sitting through lectures. She did not depend on tuition and she was disciplined with herself when it comes to self-revision. She emphasises the need for consistency, in order to avoid going into the “crunch zone” being stressed.
Wanting to challenge herself, she took on H3 Mathematics at the start of her JC2 year. Because of this arrangement, she would travel to NUS Kent Ridge and miss a few lessons in college. Even though she was afraid that she would not be able keep up, and at times doubted whether she should prioritise her ‘A’ Level subjects rather than keep her elective, Vivian persevered.Vivian concludes with a message to her peers, “Consistency is key.”
Chin Jun Jiang
Jun Jiang’s motivation to succeed stemmed from a desire to prove his mettle. When he was in JC1, a teacher’s words of warning served as a wake-up call, and he never looked back. “She told me, ‘If you continue with what you’re doing, you’re going to fail.’” From then on, he constantly pushed himself, working hard to get through the heavy workload and making improvements where his weaker subjects were concerned.
Jun Jiang attributes much of his success to the dedication of his teachers. “The teachers in SR are very caring. My civics tutor, Ms Cindy Ong, constantly motivated and encouraged us. You could see the effort in everything that she did, and she made sure that every assignment was clearly designed to help us to improve. My Mathematics teacher, Ms Koh Seok Xian, also met me for consultations every day in JC1.”When asked about his secret to success, Jun Jiang shared, “You need to make sure you get enough sleep so that you can function well enough to be alert and pay attention in class. There is no point in sacrificing your sleep if it will make you miss out on important information during lessons.”
Muhammad Khairul Azman
The ingredients for Khairul’s success are a concoction of family, friends, teachers and personal beliefs. Coming from a background of financial difficulties, he is intrinsically motivated to do well and succeed in life in hopes of giving his parents a better life. He shared that his parents said, “This is your life and you should make the decisions”. They were always supportive and would lecture him whenever he failed to utilise his time well.
His friends from the SR Canoeing team would organise study sessions and encourage each other to study. He revealed that his strategy was to go to the Marine Parade Library early in the morning to study with his buddy, Ian (from canoeing), so that whenever they were unsure, they could just clarify their doubts with each other. If they were unable to obtain the answers, they would seek consultations with the teachers who were always friendly and helpful.
Khairul shared that it was an eventful journey in SRJC due to the injury he sustained in March 2015 while playing floorball, when his glasses was hit by a floorball stick and shattered glass went into his eye. As a result, he had to undergo surgery and missed lessons for two weeks. Despite the unfortunate event, he remembers vividly that it was his supportive friends and concerned teachers who made time to visit and provided help for him to catch up on his work.
“During the 2 weeks I was [away from school], Ms Claresta Lim was concerned and texted me words of encouragement. Before exam periods, she would give the class exam packages which included GP notes, snacks and bubbles wraps to help relieve stress. I felt really touched that the teachers would go the extra mile to motivate students to do their best.”
To his friends in SRJC, Khairul has a few words of encouragement: “Never give up. You should always work hard. And, eventually your efforts will pay off.”
Ng Yuan Pei
Hailing from Malaysia, Yuan Pei shares that his journey in SRJC was not exactly a walk in the park. “When you live alone in Singapore, you have to be very independent as there are not many people you can turn to for help other than your friends,” he recalls. Indeed, strong peer support was integral to his JC life.
When asked what motivated him to succeed, he shared that it was his parents’ sacrifices. “I had to consider the fact that my parents have sacrificed a lot financially to allow me to study in Singapore and thus, I cannot allow these sacrifices to go to waste by not doing well,” he shares. Another source of inspiration for Yuan Pei to excel academically came in the form of a wildlife documentary television program – River Monsters. “Ever since I started watching the documentary in primary 6, I knew that I wanted to be a biologist.” He admits that having that ultimate aim of being a biologist spurred him on to excel academically, particularly in biology.
Yuan Pei also attributes his success to good time management. “Given that I only had that little amount of time, it was crucial that I plan ahead of schedule. There were times when I felt like skipping CCA sessions, particularly so when there was a test the next day,” he admits, “but I never did. Essentially, it all boils down to how well you plan your time.”
PEI EN QI DAWN
“Life changing” – that is how Dawn describes her experience at SRJC which allowed her to not only succeed academically but also provide opportunities for her to better herself as a person. She appreciates the support teachers have rendered to her both during and even out of the classroom so as to clarify her doubts. As a student, Dawn had an unflagging determination that no question which she had was left unanswered – a strategy that has definitely served her well.
Dawn clarifies that the key to obtaining good grades is not simply about investing time and effort in revision, but to also find opportunities for “down time” because relaxation is important to maintain stamina. Dawn enthused that her CCA, the Library Council, gave her time to unwind and engage in craft activities which she really enjoyed. It also helped that her parents were a constant source of encouragement and did not give her unnecessary pressure.
When asked to give an advice to her juniors, Dawn asserted that consistency is key and that cramming just before exams would often prove to be a futile endeavour to obtain good results.
She also believes that it is important for a student to identify what his or her motivation is. “Everyone has a different motivation,” Dawn stresses, “it could be our parents, or our circumstances in life, or perhaps we are out to prove something to someone. Believe in yourself and down be swayed by other’s opinions or any expressions of doubt.
POON SER TING, SHANISE
“Have a clear plan of what you want to do each day. There’s satisfaction checking off items on your to-do-list”. Living by this principle has certainly allowed Shanise to emerge triumphant at the A level’s. She also fervently believes that achieving balance and prioritising well are important ingredients for academic success.
Shanise believes that her teachers were pivotal in encouraging her to set her sights on greater goals and is appreciative how her teachers extended their help to allow her to maximise her potential. She recalls a teacher telling her to aim for stellar results and it was at that point that she began setting her sights on greater academic success. Familial support was also a crucial source of motivation as they would celebrate her success and gave her room to and make her own decisions. This space for self-development is something Shanise values as she is a firm believer of the need to be her own person.
For Shanise, the SR experience has been a highly fulfilling journey and lists Will Run as one of the events which allowed her to understand that no matter how unrealistic aims appear to be, if one hungers desperately to achieve them, they can be certainly fulfilled. She also stresses that it is imperative for one to find joy in learning and encourages her juniors to discover what their hobbies are and to devote enough time for them as they are healthy outlets for stress relief.
Reuben Chua Hong Lin
“My inspiration is the competitive living in Singapore. My parents only had secondary school education. In Singapore, life wouldn’t be as smooth sailing for those without a degree. In the future, I want to be able to provide for my spouse and family. Recognising that, without a proper foundation I can’t start to do that.” This was Reuben’s inspiration to succeed in school and life.
He describes his journey in SRJC as smooth sailing, though at first, he did not do particularly well in school. He attributed his academic success to the support given by the school, teachers and family. “As I can’t study at home, I will study in school and it helps that the school open late till 9pm. Teachers are always helpful, staying late and giving consultations, replying to text messages to reply my queries, especially closer to the A-level period. My family did not pressure me; they gave me constant encouragement that as long as I tried my best, they will accept my best.”
Reuben shared some effective study strategies that he adopted to succeed in his studies. Firstly, it was how he used his time in school. He revealed that he did not spend time at home but always staying late to study in school. Secondly, it was essential to have a balanced study-relaxation schedule. When he is studying, there is no distraction, he does not use his phone or talk to his friends. He keeps his relaxation time short. Thirdly, listening to music or news podcasts helps him to stay focused. At the same time, these news podcasts helped him in General Paper.
Reuben, who was the Presidents of Runners’ Club, shared how coming to SRJC made him become more open as an individual as compared to being an introvert in secondary school. The atmosphere of SR and its culture of care, made him more willing to share and become more sociable as his classmates and teachers helped to shape this caring environment. In CCA, he had ample opportunities to demonstrate his leadership by planning activities and getting his committee members to help. These are skills that he learnt in Camp Aspire, such as the importance of delegation and spreading out the workload.
His parting message to fellow SRJCians and his classmates was, “We only want to take A-levels once. It is not about the grades but it is about the journey we take. This journey is unique to everyone. It won’t be an easy one but the fruits of the labour which you put in, will eventually put a smile to your faces. Remember, it is not a sprint but a marathon. A marathon which you take running alongside our friends and you will see them at the end.”
ROXAS JHOANNA MARI
There were evident cheers of support and elation when Jhoanna’s name was called out as one of the top students of the class of 2015. However the last two years, as Jhoanna noted, was not entirely smooth-sailing as she struggled to manage the various roles and responsibilities she took on in SR. In her first year, she was a Civics Group Representative and was determined to qualify for the ACE@SR Scholar’s programme. She also took on the role of one of the lead characters in the college’s 25th anniversary musical. Further challenge was posed to her when she had to catch up with her peers in terms of honing her skills and techniques as a Touch Football player – a sport she is immensely passionate about.
Despite her different commitments and facing a minor set-back during her J2 mid-year examinations, Jhoanna never lost sight of her dream to become a doctor. This aspiration motivated her to remain determined and the desire to exercise mastery over all aspects of her life led to her to become highly disciplined. Jhoanna also highlighted Mr Adrian Koh and Ms Zulaiha as two key teachers who would readily clarify her doubts, even on weekends.
Nonetheless, Jhoanna noted that it is important to take breaks either through some personal time or with her friends because this practice enabled her to recalibrate and realign her focus. When asked if she had any words of encouragement for her juniors, she smiled sincerely and said “I would encourage them to enjoy the journey, because when you leave [SR] you will miss the moments – both the highs and lows, as well as the teachers and friends.”