Delinquent turned top student: NS stint with police turned me around

MOE award winner says NS stint with police force changed his attitude towards future

For many young men, it's a duty. But for this man, serving national service as a police officer motivated him to turn his life around.

As proof of how big a change that was, Mr Daniel Ravindran, 23, won three awards at yesterday's Special Awards Ceremony by the Ministry of Education.

When he was a student at Swiss Cottage Secondary School, he would often hang out with bad company and play truant.

He carried his devil-may-care attitude with him when he entered the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), where he barely managed to graduate.

"At the time, I really didn't care about my studies, and I couldn't care less about how it affected my future," he said.

Now, he is pursuing a diploma in electronic engineering at Singapore Polytechnic after graduating from ITE a second time around as one of its top students.

Mr Ravindran attributes the change in his attitude to his time in NS as a Neighbourhood Police Centre Officer at Bukit Merah West Neighbourhood Police Centre.

"While I was there, my friends and colleagues told me that I needed to seriously consider the future that I had set before me.


"I also witnessed many arrest cases that made me think about what kind of future I wanted for myself," he said.

This sparked a desire in Mr Ravindran to continue his studies and do well.

Initially he wanted to retake his 0 levels, but failed to meet the deadline. So he enrolled in a private institute to pursue a diploma.

However, juggling his studies around the 12-hour shifts proved too strenuous, so he dropped out.

Undeterred, he returned to ITE after NS to do a Higher Nitec course.

"When I first told my parents about it, they felt uncertain I was making the right choice. They actually wanted me to sign on with the police force.

"Some of my friends and relatives even told me there was no point going back and that it would just be the same result, but that just made me all the more determined to prove them wrong," he added.

Mr Ravindran's decision to repeat his studies paid off when he achieved the maximum grade point average of 4.0 in his Higher Nitec course in electronics engineering at ITE College West.

He was also the chairman of the Eco Campus Committee and co-leader of the Youth Corp Singapore Project.

For his achievements in school, Mr Ravindran received the Lee Hsien Loong Award for Outstanding All-Round Achievement, the Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship to Encourage Upgrading, and the Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Book Prize yesterday.

On returning to ITE, Mr Ravindran said he was "shocked at the amount of support and interest the teachers had for us, and I felt like I was able to do my best".

He was particularly inspired by one of his teachers, Mr Foong Yee Fun, 55, who did not just teach, but would share personal stories to motivate his students.

Inspired by Mr Foong, Mr Ravindran hopes to become a teacher at ITE.

"I feel like having received all the support and help, I should do the same for others."

When asked how he feels about Mr Ravindran's dream, Mr Foong jokingly said: "I would rather he explore the world outside before coming back here to teach.

"But if it's his calling, then I would happily welcome him here."

Some of my friends and relatives told me there was no point going back (to studies), but that made me all the more determined to prove them wrong.

- Mr Daniel Ravindran

This article was first published on August 21, 2015.
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