Underachiever now a top seafaring cadet

Underachiever now a top seafaring cadet
To have a career at sea has been Mr Kuganesan Vijayakumar's childhood dream.

For a year, between 2010 and 2011, he spent most of his time in an MRT train, travelling to and fro from the east to the west.

Mr Kuganesan Vijayakumar, then 25, had joined SMRT as a train officer because of his technical background in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

But he never forgot his childhood dream: a career at sea.

"I knew I wanted to be out at sea since I was in primary school. Perhaps it was due to the movies I watched. I thought it was something different, something cool," he said.

When the chance to join the Certificate of Competency (Special Limits) programme, a place-and-train programme for aspiring seafarers, came in 2011, he took the plunge.

The 28-year-old was among the pioneering batch of graduates in April.

The place-and-train programme was Mr Kuganesan's second stab at a maritime career.

As a student, he had applied for the Nautical Studies course in Singapore Polytechnic, but was rejected because his mathematics score - his least favourite subject - was one grade short of the entry requirement.

That rejection worried Mr Kuganesan's father when he heard of his son's plans to enrol in the seafaring course.

"My father was afraid I wouldn't be able to get into the course because I had failed to get into Nautical Studies," the deck cadet told The New Paper.

"He wanted me to think twice about it so I wouldn't have to go through the same disappointment again."

But that doubt pushed Mr Kuganesan to work even harder after he was accepted into the course.

He knew that the first thing he had to do was to overcome his dislike of numbers, which is a major part of the seafaring course.

"This job is something I really wanted to do, so I motivated myself. Slowly, I realised that maths was not impossible," he said.

But another obstacle was waiting for him when the training venue moved on to the waters: seasickness.

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