Rejects make good: 'I felt like I had no place to go'

By his own admission, Mr Chua Kang Loong was an uninterested student.

A fan of games like Gunbound and MapleStory, he was always looking forward to the end of his lessons, so he could go home to play computer games.

"I always managed to progress to the next level, although I was always nearly failing all my subjects since primary school," said Mr Chua.

He went to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) after completing his N levels and graduated with a Nitec in Electronics (Computer and Networking).

"But when I was rejected from polytechnic after ITE, it was the first time that I felt like I had no place to go," he said.

Mr Chua, now 26, decided to apply for a higher Nitec in Electronics Engineering at the ITE. It paid off, but it meant he could only enrol in the polytechnic after completing his national service.

This made him feel awkward among his schoolmates, who were younger.

"I felt like an uncle," he said, adding it was difficult for him to catch up with them.

"I went through an hour-long tutorial once and everyone completed all the questions within in half an hour, but I was still struggling with the first question," he said.

But Mr Chua persevered and is now the top student of the Electronic and Computer Engineering course at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

His final year project supervisor, Mr Chia Yong Poo, was impressed by his drive to succeed.

"He is very trustworthy and will go the extra mile to complete any task that is assigned to him," said Mr Chia.

University, once a "far away dream", is now a reality - Mr Chua has been offered places in both the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.

He now uses his experience to encourage his juniors in ITE.

Mr Chua is now a teaching associate at ITE, which will be funding his university studies with a scholarship.

"I have a friend who is 26 and she has completed her Masters. I am the same age as her, but I haven't even seen the gates of university yet.

"But my life story can motivate my juniors because we all have a common goal to progress further," Mr Chua said.

This article was published on May 8 in The New Paper.

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