SINGAPORE - For creating impactful visuals for the National Day rallies, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong decided to create an award as a way to express his appreciation to Nanyang Polytechnic.
Revealing this in a Facebook post, Mr Lee said: "NYP has been helping me with the visuals for my National Day Rally for many years, doing a magnificent job. So I created this award to thank NYP, and encourage their students to excel."
In his post, the prime minister also congratulated the first recipient of the award - Jerome Yap, who topped the class in Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Interactive and Digital Media. "I am especially proud that Jerome is the first winner of the Lee Hsien Loong Award for Interactive and Digital Media," Mr Lee wrote.
"Jerome loved drawing, but did very badly in the PSLE. He did not give up. He went on to earn a Higher NITEC at the Institute of Technical Education, and then a diploma in Motion Graphics and Broadcast Design at NYP. With strong family encouragement, his years of perseverance and hard work paid off.
"I hope Jerome's success will inspire others to upgrade themselves and pursue excellence in whatever paths they choose," he added.
Jerome's achievement was highlighted on SchoolBag, an online publication by the Education Ministry.
In its article, it said Jerome was always doodling his favourite cartoon characters during lessons, but he was not aware of his designing talent then until he embarked on projects in art and design & technology when he was in secondary three.
An average student, he continued his studies at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) where he took up NITEC and Higher NITEC in Programming and Multimedia.
When Jerome found what was best suited to his interest and talent, he applied to Nanyang Polytechnic to pursue a diploma in motion graphics broadcast design.
"When I was in ITE, some of my friends discouraged me from continuing my education as I was getting older and they told me not to waste time. There was negativity, but with my family's support, I stayed positive and was determined to make it to a polytechnic," said Jerome who took a longer academic route as compared to his peers.
Today, Jerome, 24, looks back with no regrets. Not only has he obtained a diploma, he is also the top student of his polytechnic class.
"I am fortunate because I found something that excites me, something that allows my mind to speak. Academics are important but skills matter too. This is especially true in my industry where picking up relevant skills and undergoing training constantly are critical to catch up with the industry's needs," said Jerome, who did his internship at Hong Kong's Carbon TV, a motion graphics and design studio specialising in transforming iconic TV brands.
Nanyang Polytechnic works closely with industry partners to allow its students to brush up their skills and acquire relevant experience before entering the workforce.
"The internship experience was an eye-opener for me. I picked up both creative and soft skills as well as how to deal with clients. Being in a highly dynamic industry, I felt the need to push myself to achieve what the company required and the opportunity to apply what I have learnt was very useful," said Jerome, who is currently freelancing at Carbon TV's Singapore-based branch.