Coma survivor gets scholarship, Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal award

SINGAPORE - Every painful step he takes reminds him to be the best he can be - a lesson etched in his mind after an accident that left doctors wondering if he would walk again.

Just two years ago, Mr Arshad Supa'at was riding his motorcycle home after his shift as a food delivery man, when a lorry knocked him down.

His left thigh was pinned underneath the lorry's wheels, before he was extricated. The accident left him in a coma for two days.

The Jalan Kayu accident forced him to miss his business studies course at ITE College Bishan for six months as he underwent physiotherapy and multiple skin grafts.

His four-member family took a financial hit since he was the main breadwinner. His dad was recovering from a heart attack while his mum was working as a parking attendant then.

He has a younger sister, now 21.

On Wednesday evening, Mr Arshad, 25, was awarded the prestigious, bond-free SP-ITE Scholarship by Singapore Polytechnic. He was shortlisted for his outstanding academic results and co-curricular activities.

This included being the best speaker at the Inter-College ValidITE Business Debate last year. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal award this year.

But Mr Arshad is not free from the complications of the accident.

He said: "I feel pain in my knee even if it's just taking a step. I will be taking painkillers for a long time, but I have accepted it as part and parcel of my life."

After returning to school last year and missing the bulk of his first year, Mr Arshad faced the sizeable task of graduating with his peers.

But with the help of his teachers and classmates, he crammed two years of work into one and earned a near-perfect 3.9 grade point average.

He even earned straight distinctions in all his first-year subjects.

On the financial front, Ms Joyce See, 47, Arshad's then form teacher, rallied her colleagues and students to raise nearly $3,000 for his expenses. The money came through various efforts, including cookie-selling sessions.

Mr Arshad said Ms See was an inspiration to him and she motivated him to push himself harder, even getting him to join the debating team.

No surprise

His results were no surprise to Ms See.

She said: "He is a bright boy and always had the potential to excel. For Arshad, it was about setting the stage for him."

Mr Arshad's mother, Madam Enah Harun, 54, was pleasantly surprised by The New Paper.

Madam Enah, who was not aware of her son's scholarship award when TNP spoke to her on Wednesday, said: "Maybe he wanted to surprise me. Now that I've found out, I feel so proud."

Mr Arshad is quick to attribute his success to his peers, teachers and family.

He said: "After doing some soul-searching while I was bedridden, I was more determined than before the accident.

"Seeing how my family and friends in school supported me gave me more reason to recover quickly. After the accident, I was more focused on what I wanted to achieve.

"I knew what I wanted to do and worked extra hard to catch up."

After all the help from people around him, he just wants to inspire others.