5 Extraordinary Polytechnic Students Who Will Inspire You To Make The Most Out Of Life

Thinking positively, turning adversity into opportunity


January 30 2018

“A life without challenges would be like going to school without lessons to learn. Challenges come not to depress or get you down, but to master and to grow and to unfold your abilities” 

STYLEGUIDE uncovers these 5 extraordinary individuals who excel not only in their academics but who have also distinguished themselves in terms of conduct and values in the face of life challenges. We ask these outstanding students about their greatest inspiration and motivation in life and the change that they would like to see in this world.

Shahrul Izwan

Photo Credit: Temasek Polytechnic

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Shahrul Izwan. I am 24 years old and currently a final year student in the Electronics course at Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Engineering. I was diagnosed with spastic paraparesis at the age of 16, a rare disorder that causes gradual weakness with muscle spasms in the legs.  

I was a floorball player in Secondary school before I was diagnosed with my condition, which caused me to lose the use of my legs. Determined not to let this setback get the better of me, I trained for the Para Games wheelchair event and achieved my dream of representing Singapore in the recent games in KL. 

What is your greatest inspiration and motivation in life?   

I think my greatest motivation in life is knowing how to think positively. After I was hit physically by my condition, I lost confidence in myself, especially when socializing with others and dealing with the difficulty in moving about on a wheelchair. But by thinking positively, I turned adversity into opportunity. For instance, when using the ramps on campus or in public; instead of looking at it as a burden, I take it as a chance to train my arm strength for the para games competition.  

What is one change that you would like to see in this world? 

I would like to see the world adopt the same positive outlook in life as I did. My life quote to people out there is, "A negative mind will never give you a positive life." So always think positive anywhere and at any time.

Oscar Koh


Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Oscar and I’m 24 years old. I am currently a final-year student pursuing a Diploma in Business Studies, with a specialization in Human Capital Management at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP).

I grew up in a family with financial difficulties, where even daily meals poses a challenge for us. Because of that, I often went to school on an empty stomach. On some days, I had to drink water to make myself full to get through the day. Some of the vendors in the canteen empathized with my plight and took me in to help out at their stalls so that I could earn some pocket money for my meals.

As a kid, I used to envy my peers, who could afford simple snacks like chicken nuggets and drumsticks. Despite what I experienced in my childhood, it has made me learn to stand on my two feet and more importantly, learn to be kind to people and appreciate the things I have and not take things for granted. 

What is your greatest inspiration and motivation in life?

My greatest inspiration and motivation in life is to create a better childhood for my kids in the future. I believe that as long as I stay humble and keep trying, I will be able to get to where I want to be.

My childhood wasn’t the greatest as my family was constantly fretting over finances. Love and care didn’t always come easy. I certainly wouldn’t want my kids to endure hardships the way I did. Hence, I’m striving to work hard ceaselessly. It’s tiring to juggle so many jobs and my studies at the same time but it’s definitely worth the effort.

What is one change that you would like to see in this world?

I would love to see everyone persevere in pursuing their dreams! Life can be hard and even scary at times. Still, don’t stop trying. You’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve! 

Muhammad Adam Ihsan Boon Jia Sheng

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Adam. I’m in my final year, currently pursuing a Diploma in Biomedical Science at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP). Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been passionate about helping people as knowing that my actions could make a difference gives me a sense of satisfaction.

Naturally, being a doctor was a career option to take and that’s why I took up this course.

Over time, I’ve come to realize that my mindset was myopic, as being a doctor is not the only way to help people. Allured by the effects of digital disruption, I was excited at the amount of opportunities to helping people on a larger scale. During my first year, I teamed up with Woo Hui Ren, a fellow student from School of Infocomm Technology to run NP Virtual Private Network service, which lets all NP students use the campus internet freely and securely. I was ecstatic in solving people’s pain points when accessing the internet in school, and have been high on the entrepreneurial spirit ever since.

What is your greatest inspiration and motivation in life?

I think my greatest inspiration and motivation in life is to impact lives positively. Clichéd, I know! I feel that even if my current venture fails, it will still be worth it as long as I manage to impact the life of just one person

What is one change that you would like to see in this world?

I would like to see more knowledge sharing in this world. Knowledge is power but sharing knowledge is even more powerful. It holds the capacity for change, and sharing knowledge can be empowering for the progress of executing these changes.

Jamie Jessica Leong


Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Jamie and I am currently a year 2 student studying Animation in NYP School of Interactive and Digital Media. I am an active member of the NYP Guitar Club, serving as the Head of publicity and leading my club in design and publicity matters. I have a strong passion for both arts and music, and always strives to seek a balance and do well in both my academic and non-academic pursuits. 

This year, I will be participating in Worldskills 2018 Graphic Design Technology. Despite having to juggle preparation for Worldskills, animation assignments and CCA commitments which can be tiring, I believe that it is important to also have a CCA. Guitar Club is fun and allows me to explore different opportunities.

What is your greatest inspiration and motivation in life? 

My interest in design and animation began many years ago when I was a young kid watching cartoons and movies, reading books and looking at magazines. I was amazed at how authors, animators and filmmakers conceptualise a whole new fictional world through drawings- they could take a simple idea and turn it into a work of art. Watching movies and films really broadened my outlooks on things and fed my creativity to inspire me to one day create my own stories too

What is one change that you would like to see in this world?

For students like us who lives with a hectic schedule, we may be prone to lose motivation and take on a gloomy outlook on life. Thus I would like to see more people learn to take breaks and have fun amidst the hustle, by simply keeping a more positive mind and curiosity to explore doing new things. In doing so, you will discover that the world is really not as mundane or routine as we perceived it to be.

Jashant Surendran 

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Jashant Surendran and I am currently a student and scholarship recipient for the Diploma in Nanotechnology and Material Science in Nanyang Polytechnic.

My strong interest in street magic spurred me to join Emcee Club in Nanyang Polytechnic when I came to know that they had a division in the club called “Street Talent”. After 1.5 years in the Club, I gained much confidence in myself and have become a better performer in card magic.  

This skill that I learned not only gave me the chance to entertain and make people happy, but it has also allowed me to inspire children on the importance of perseverance during a charity event organized by my Poly as I shared with them the hard work I put in to learn the skill. 

I am also an active member in the Youth Corps Singapore aspirant leadership development programme. The nature of the programme has not only built up my leadership skills but fuelled my interest and passion to give back to the community.   

What is your greatest inspiration and motivation in life?

My greatest inspiration in life would be learning how to look at things in a positive light. I am constantly thinking of ways to improve and make this world a better place. This makes me unafraid to venture out of my comfort zone to learn and discover new things. 

My motivation in life would be to become the change we want to see in this world. It is in my belief that change can only happen when you take the first step.

What is one change that you would like to see in this world?

I would like everyone to love life and be happy with the things they have and do; and have the courage to explore possibilities and challenges, optimistically and passionately. If possible, I would also like to eliminate resentment in this world, so that everyone can feel peace in their hearts and focus on the things that really matter.