By Bryan Toh
A LOOK at the recent achievements of Mr Yue Soon Lye, 24, gives no clue to his past as a school dropout.
This week, he was among 40 Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates to be given the Lee Kuan Yew Award, an honour given to ITE students who have blazed a trail in their academic or co-curricular activities.
The award crowns his recent achievements: Graduating from the ITE this year with a certificate in multimedia technology after bagging a perfect string of 'A' grades, and being the only ITE student selected for the first run of the NextGen Leadership Programme organised by the South East Community Development Council to groom future community leaders.
Just five years ago, the young man, now pursuing a diploma in Information Communication Technology at Singapore Polytechnic, dropped out from an ITE course in computer and engineering electronics course; after playing truant and failing two modules.
He said matter-of-factly: 'I decided: What's the use of an incomplete certificate? So I left.'
A television programme on an ITE graduate who made good was a turning point for him. He re-enrolled and has never looked back.
Besides the 40 ITE graduates given the Lee Kuan Yew Award at the ITE Student Achiever's Award Ceremony 2010 on Tuesday, 289 others received ITE Excellence awards for doing well in the arts, sports and co-curricular activities.
Fellow Lee Kuan Yew Award winner Mark Aaron Lee, 22, quit school at 14 to take care of his handicapped grandfather, but four years on, he enrolled in the ITE when he realised that education was a necessity.
He said: 'I believe you should always chase your dreams and never wallow in self-pity.'
Speaking at the ceremony, ITE's chief executive Bruce Poh said of the award winners: 'Passion, perseverance and purpose - these qualities set apart the very best from the rest.'
This article was first published in The Straits Times.