By Nicole Doyle (17A01A), Jeanne Tan (17A01B), Abdul Qayyum (17A01B), Serafina Siow (17A13A), Nerissa Loe (17A13A), Andrew Hidajat (17S03I), Ashley Tan (18A13A), Warren Liow (18A01B), Soh Ying Qi (18A01C)
Pictures courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society
This is Part 1 of our 2017 A Levels Student Feature.
Through grit, resilience and endless support from family and friends, Ge Kuangning (16A01A) has overcome immense challenges and emerged stronger.
It was just last year when he was diagnosed with a medical condition. When asked about his experience, he expressed that life inevitably got more difficult. Though his time was both physically and mentally exhausting, one-to-one consultations with teachers as well as support from family and friends got him through the trying time.
Whatever the obstacle, Kuangning has kept up with grades. His achievements, however, do not stop there– from completing an internship with a leading Singaporean law firm to shadowing a Member of Parliament, Kuangning has certainly gone above and beyond as a student.
Amongst his other extracurricular activities, his time in the school’s shooting team was evidently well spent. Beyond clinching an individual gold medal on top of a silver medal for the team category, Kuangning shared that shooting had taught him the importance of being calm and clear in aiming straight for his goals. This intense focus extends far beyond the target board and a calm steadiness clearly guides his life aspirations.
Regarding his plans for the future, he shared that since he has been exempt from National Service, he intends to do some internships and take a gap year, eventually hoping to apply to a law firm. Although he is interested in studying overseas, he plans to apply to local universities to study law first, before making further decisions regarding his higher education.
He would like to thank his teachers, particularly Mr Sowden, of whom he said, “Very enjoyable lessons and a very passionate teacher”, and his Mathematics teacher, Mdm Low, adding that both his Literature and History teachers were also very good. He would also like to thank his family, who gave him a lot of support.
Naomi Koh (16A13A) has not only overcome personal challenges, but she has also gone out of her way to help others. With a hearing impairment which requires her use of bilateral Cochlear implants, she is sometimes unable to understand movies without subtitles and hear the accents of the people she talks to. Though nothing life threatening, it can be annoying for her. Naomi went on to describe the strange position she found herself and others with her condition occupying as a “contradiction between assimilating normally and not”.
Despite this, she says that her classmates have been a strong support base for her, helping her to cope with her disability. “After a while – and it takes some time – you start accepting it because it’s not something you can change and it’s not something that’s inherently bad. I would certainly be a lot less mature today if I didn’t have this problem.”
In JC, Naomi decided to become a peer-mentor for a support group for teenagers with hearing impairments. She mentioned that most of these youths feel isolated and neglected by those around them who are unable to empathise on a fundamental level. The support group was suggested by a senior, Josiah Tan, and started off as a Whatsapp group where they mentored Secondary school students. As a peer-mentor, she sent encouraging messages and gave advice, and even helped plan gatherings like Christmas parties. She noted, “You can have fun games without relying on your hearing!”
On top of this, Naomi is a passionate volunteer at the food drive Food from the Heart, as they combine two worthy causes– preventing food wastage while helping the less fortunate get food. Her enthusiasm shone through when speaking of this project close to her heart. “In supermarkets, a lot of the food is fine but because of regulations and concerns of customers, they are wasted. Food from the Heart channels the food to the beneficiaries. We sit at the warehouse to help sort food, and I really enjoyed it. It sort of says how you don’t really have to be doing a big thing for CIP.”
Outside of her community work, Naomi was a CCA Leader at Writer’s Guild, Naomi says that the experience was rewarding, even if it meant compromising on her sleep. Her batch successfully oversaw the publication of two literary anthologies put together by members, Melting Pot and Enter/Exit.
As for advice on getting through Year 6, she had this to say: “Mega Mugging Madness is really good, especially the food. It may not seem like it, but sleep is actually important. It’ll probably be better if you get an amount of sleep that you’re comfortable with. I slept through classes in J1 because I had a mindset of ‘chionging’ things through the night. You shouldn’t stop striving until A’s are over!”
Toh Yu Ze
An all-rounded student, Toh Yu Ze (16A13A) is a profoundly determined and introspective individual who managed to overcome all the odds stacked against him. Aside from holding prestigious titles such as assistant CCA leader and ranked Cadet Inspector in NPCC, Yu Ze was also a member of Raffles Football, which clinched the fourth position in the 2016 National School Games Football Championships ‘A’ Division. However, he not only excelled in these pursuits – Yu Ze also went the extra mile outside school by serving the community as Lam Soon Community Centre Youth Executive Committee’s Social Development Secretary.
For the average person, the prodigious number of commitments listed above would already pose a considerable challenge. With moderate hearing loss in his right ear and colour deficiency in his sight, Yu Ze had to face even bigger barriers while coping with his academic work. Instead of caviling at his condition, Yu Ze took these obstacles in his stride and continued to push forward. When asked about his disabilities, he offered a nonchalant shrug before stating, “In general, [my disabilities] don’t affect me on a day-to-day basis, so it’s not that much of a disability.” He even went on to express gratitude towards his teachers and friends. “I remember taking a Geography paper, and people around me were very helpful,” he recounted. “For the paper, there was a map with different colours and the invigilator even came up to me to ask me whether I could see the colours… So it was really nice to see that people cared about me.”
If there was one thing that others could learn from Yu Ze, it would undoubtedly be his appreciation for and recognition of the people who have helped him along the way. “The first people (whom I would like to thank) would be my parents. In JC, you spend your time with your CCA and studying, and you don’t really get to see your parents… But I’m very thankful towards my parents for supporting me. So I think after JC, I’m looking forward to spending my time with my parents,” he shared. Indeed, this exceptional student has shown us that gratitude is the key to unlocking the fullness of life.
Loh Jia Yi
A passionate yet level-headed individual, Loh Jia Yi (16S03J) was a national sailor who won Silver for Team Singapore at the 2015 SEA Games. In addition, he was the 2015 Singapore Schools Best Sports Boy Award recipient. Despite a tough training schedule and the constant demands that he had to face as a national sailor, Jia Yi put in consistent effort in his academics during his time in RI, including visiting the school library daily when the A Level exams were approaching.
For him, going overseas for competitions during the whole of June resulted in an unsatisfactory grade for his Common Test 2 in Year 6. Instead of allowing this setback to defeat him, Jia Yi, along with his parents, made the difficult decision to stop training after June to prepare for the A Levels. Being a natural sportsperson, he found the six months without training really difficult – sailing was not just a sport to him; it was a cathartic activity for him whenever he felt stressed or overtaxed. However, he managed to overcome this transition by stressing the reason for temporarily giving up the sport he loves – he was doing it for his family.
As a sportsperson who emerged victorious from this dilemma, Jia Yi had some words of wisdom to offer to his juniors. “If you sleep during lectures, don’t. And don’t sleep during tutorials. Don’t have it bad with your teachers. Your teachers are the best help that you can get,” he advised. There were also times when he struggled with finding the right studying methods for optimal productivity. With regards to this, he had a secret strategy to share: “I think the hardest subject to study is actually Biology, because you need to retain a lot of information for a long period of time. So I took an A4 paper and folded it into four sections before writing my notes on it. At the end of the day after doing this repeatedly, I compiled my notes into a book.”
Aside from thinking of innovative methods to help himself learn better, Jia Yi is also highly perceptive, a trait that has proven to be invaluable in aiding him through his journey. For those who feel like there exists a wide gap between sports and academic learning, Jia Yi shared that the skills honed from the former may actually be transferrable to the latter: “Take whatever you learn from your sports and apply it as best as you can to your studies.”