Class of 2021 Soaring
– Vol 1

Class of 2021
Soaring

VOLUME ONE

The Class of 2021 showed us how to make the worst of times into the best of times, overcoming personal and great challenges to attain their own definition of success. In Volume One, Gwen, Rui Ting, Clement and E-Xuan tell us about how they turned obstacles into opportunities and share what gave them strength and solace throughout their gruelling journeys to the A-Levels.

PHOTOS BY TIFFANY LIM, ZOU YAN FANG, NIKITA PARMAR

Gwen Lim

ALUMNA OF CHIJ ST NICHOLAS GIRLS' SCHOOL

Gwen Lim (20-I1) exemplified what it means to make the best of any situation. Having faced academic challenges in her first year, she repeated her JC1 year in 2020 and grew into a highly-esteemed leader and seized opportunities to extend her learning beyond the syllabus. She participated in the MOE Economics Student Symposium, collaborating with the National Heritage Board and ETHOS, a student-initiated interest group, to create a website documenting little-known aspects of Singapore's history, achieved an honourable mention at the MOE Our School Our Stories photography competition, produced a short film for Literature Festival 2021 and demonstrated her passion for environmental causes with EJ Earthlings. Her boundless energy also saw her support underprivileged primary school students academically and holistically while balancing her studies in JC2. Gwen recently completed the MOE Teaching Internship Programme and is currently mentoring her juniors as Head of Arts subjects for Project AEGIS.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR RESULTS? WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?

I felt extremely shocked! I was too stunned to speak. I am extremely grateful for all my teachers, friends and seniors in AEGIS that supported me along my journey. The deep gratitude towards my teachers stems from how they offered me consultations throughout the year and were so patient. In particular, my teachers for Geography and Economics (my two weakest subjects) were incredibly kind and helpful, seeing me for weekly consultations and offering loads of moral support, and made studying these subjects fun. I’m immensely grateful to have been able to see my personal growth and academic development over the years and this would not have been possible without their help. I believe that the results achieved are a testament to the notion that one should trust the process as my wise Geography teacher constantly says, and for all that I am grateful.

WHAT WAS A CHALLENGE OR LOW POINT AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?

I was struggling academically and with motivation in 2019 and requested to be retained. Perhaps surprisingly, I would do the same again. I had grand plans to lay low and study for the next two years. But the volatility the pandemic brought about showed me that my experience could be especially helpful to my peers who looked to me for direction when they were overwhelmed. It hit me that repeating the year is not just something that has pros and cons on a personal level, but can be beneficial for the community at large.

Hence, I gradually began to look beyond myself. For instance, serving in the Class Directorate, in CCA as Head of Photography, organising the Literature Festival, serving as an EXCO member in two Student Initiated Groups (EJ Earthlings and Project ETHOS), as a Cahaya Community mentor for underprivileged students in Kebun Baru, Project Head Arts of AEGIS 2022 (academic mentorship programme by alumni), participating in the MOE Teaching Internship Programme, and many more. Frankly speaking, each of these experiences deserves a scholarship essay of its own due to the multitudinous takeaways I gleaned from them. But if there’s one thing I took away, it was what it meant to be a ‘leader with heart’ is what comes to mind. While one may expect that retaining will result in a loss of confidence, it was precisely because I felt that there was nothing else to lose, that I was able to shed my inhibitions, push myself beyond my comfort zone and truly be integrated into the concerns of the community.

I will not pretend that having multiple heavy commitments was not exhausting, just like it was in 2019. However, I was disillusioned during my second time around, and fully determined to show the world that repeating a year is not something to be ashamed of, but can be worn as a badge of honour. I believe that my story is a testament to my inner strength, and also of the kindness inherent in humanity. There were so many people that simultaneously accepted and challenged me, and gave me so many chances to prove my worth as a person. I was grateful for so many dedicated teachers that have shaped my growth.

Indeed, the value of an educator, especially for children that may not otherwise have access to the guidance of a trusted adult is something that has resonated with me, particularly so in J2. My answer to the question of what I want to be when I grow up has been consistent since the tender age of 10 - “I want to be a teacher!” The reasons have changed, but the aspiration has not. I realise that I want a career about getting things done, for the sustainable development of my country, and challenging enough to get me out of bed every morning feeling excited. I want to be part of a people-centric system that capitalises on education as a social-leveller, just as I have benefitted. Above all, I want to make sure that no student falls through the cracks, and feels that there is no one that believes in them because I will believe in them.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEANINGFUL PART OF YOUR JOURNEY IN EUNOIA?

I would say that the most meaningful part would be learning to appreciate my academic subjects beyond the classroom. Being able to see interdisciplinary connections between the subjects genuinely sparked joy in my educational journey. This was especially true for Economics and Geography. The synoptic thinking became something that made me understand the world around me better, and provided a better lens in which I could view the world and myself with greater appreciation. My time in EJ really catalysed my intellectual capacity for critical thinking beyond what I thought was even possible, since the rigour of the curriculum along with juggling the multitudes of extracurriculars truly acted as a crucible for my growth as an individual.

WHAT ADVICE OR ENCOURAGEMENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOUR JUNIORS?

Trust the process as progress is not linear. Tap on all the resources that you have, such as consultations with teachers, study groups, AEGIS, or even online! Lastly, pay attention in tutorials and lectures — it's the small things that add up to your eventual success.

Chew Rui Ting

ALUMNA OF CHIJ ST NICHOLAS GIRLS' SCHOOL

Chew Rui Ting (20-E4) was a highly resilient student who pursued a fulfilling college experience in spite of her medical condition. There were instances where she had to be hospitalised during her Preliminary and A-Level Examinations but she remained steadfast and persevering to achieve admirable results. More importantly, she maintained a positive learning attitude and gave much to the college and the community. An erhu player for the Chinese Orchestra, she contributed to the Certificate of Distinction achieved by the CCA at the Singapore Youth Festival Arts Presentation in 2021. Rui Ting also participated in Project Mahalo and Team Populum Sitas, initiatives that sought to provide meals and essentials for seniors, migrant workers and people with special needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and raise funds for Make-a-Wish Foundation (Singapore) respectively. Passionate about giving back to society and determined to overcome personal challenges, Rui Ting was a role model for the people around her, students and teachers alike.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR RESULTS? WHAT HELPED YOU ACHIEVE THESE RESULTS?

I want to thank my teachers and friends. The teachers all teach from the bottom of their hearts. My teachers are extremely supportive and teach from the bottom of their hearts. They never fail to bring joy to my life and show concern for me. I am also grateful for my parents and family who cared so much for me and supported me with prayers and love.

WHAT WAS A CHALLENGE OR LOW POINT AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?

Managing my illness required me to be warded in the hospital every fortnight, and I missed many lessons as a result. It was thanks to all the help from my teachers and friends that I managed to keep up academically. During my A-levels, I was admitted to the A&E twice and missed my papers. Despite all these challenges, my teachers continued to encourage me not to give up. I am truly grateful for all my teachers!

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEANINGFUL PART OF YOUR JOURNEY IN EUNOIA?

The strong college spirit and experiences with my friends and teachers are my fondest memories of EJC. Their love and concern formed a strong foundation in my education journey.

WHAT ADVICE OR ENCOURAGEMENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOUR JUNIORS?

I’d encourage Eunoians to enjoy the process of learning and view the opportunity to study as a privilege not to be taken for granted. Start revision early, have a revision plan and do not compare yourself with others as it brings unnecessary stress.

Clement Chim

ALUMNUS OF CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL

Clement Chim (20-E4) selflessly devoted time and effort to help Rui Ting, his classmate, on a day-to-day basis. He supported her when she missed lessons, explaining concepts to her and serving as a bridge between Rui Ting and her subject tutors. As the Chemistry subject representative for the class, he often helped his other classmates improve their grasp of difficult concepts. Clement excelled in Physics as well, pursuing the subject at the Higher 3 level. In his Co-Curricular Activity,  he worked tirelessly to grow as a basketball player and spread his interest in the sport, co-organising a friendly basketball competition for his juniors. Combined with his tenacity and love for learning, Clement's empathy for others sets him apart as a mature and laudable individual.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR RESULTS? WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?

I am still processing them in my head, but I do know that results are multi-faceted. I am proud of myself for the effort I put in, my school life and the person I am, so I will do my best to not be too affected by a number. I am very grateful for the positive environment my friends, teachers and family helped create.

WHAT WAS A CHALLENGE OR LOW POINT AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?

There was a time last year when I felt painfully aware of certain inadequacies and was in a bad place. I overcame this by focussing on future steps to take instead of on mistakes I had made and am happy I had the conviction to tackle the gruelling task of self-improvement.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEANINGFUL PART OF YOUR JOURNEY IN EUNOIA?

The memories created and the friendships forged - these are friends I know I will work to keep in my life in the years to come.

WHAT ADVICE OR ENCOURAGEMENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOUR JUNIORS?

To my juniors, when you know what you want to achieve, work out the tangible steps you can take to get there. Focus on putting in the effort needed at each step of the way and you will get there!

Yeo E-Xuan

ALUMNA OF CHIJ ST NICHOLAS GIRLS' SCHOOL

Yeo E-Xuan (20-U3) was Class Vice-Chairperson for her civics group and an exemplary role model for her peers. A sincere leader who cared for both their welfare and academic performance, she organised various activities to bring the class together and created an online repository of Economics notes. Despite a setback at home in her second year, she remained resilient throughout. Her commendable academic performance and her many acts of service, from serving as an Orientation Group Leader to leading a Values in Action project, attest to her strength and selflessness.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR RESULTS? WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?

I am happy about my results! I’m thankful for my civics tutors, friends and family for giving me endless support throughout my journey in EJC. Their reassurance helped me to deal with the uncertainty and anxiety during the A-Levels.

WHAT WAS A CHALLENGE OR LOW POINT AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?

My lowest point in 2021 was when I had to manage both the stress of the A-levels and personal problems at home. I was overthinking and constantly anxious. Although I have not fully overcome the issues, I’m just taking it one day at a time and focusing on the present.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEANINGFUL PART OF YOUR JOURNEY IN EUNOIA?

The most meaningful part of my journey in Eunoia is my daily interactions with my friends. We ate together, mugged together and did a lot of silly things together that will probably make for embarrassing stories we can recount together in future. Although they were small things, they made my JC life much less mundane.

WHAT ADVICE OR ENCOURAGEMENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOUR JUNIORS?

If I had to give any advice, I guess it would be to not take life and yourself too seriously. 2 years will pass very quickly so just have fun and live in the moment 🙂