How this EM3 student became a PhD scholar

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How this EM3 student became a PhD scholar

Postby KSP » Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:12 am

'Grades didn't matter to me'

Once placed in stream for weakest students, he receives prestigious top scholarship.

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AT 10, he did so badly in school that he was sent to EM3, a stream for the weakest students.

Today, he is on a scholarship and will, in due time, be earning himself a PhD.

Mr Lim Yok Zuan, now 25, was remarkably sanguine about his time at the bottom of Singapore's competitive school system.

"I knew little about the importance and value of education then," he said.

"School, to me, was just part and parcel of growing up. I enjoyed the company of my classmates, but never took it seriously."

The scholar took the long, hard road through the system: EM3, then scoring an aggregate of 124 in the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE), which only qualified him for the Normal Academic course in Secondary School - again, a meant for academically weak students.

But all this time, he had a burning passion for science.

Sister's encyclopaedia

The serious young man explained that, actually, his life-changing moment came in Primary 5, when he picked up his sister's The Giant Book Of What Do You Know?, an encyclopaedia meant for teenagers.

Said the former Chua Chu Kang Primary School pupil: "I loved the interesting facts, colourful pictures and explanations in the book."

He recounted how, fascinated by the pictures and stories, he slowly became intrigued about how things worked. His curiosity had been ignited, he recalled with a smile.

There were times, Mr Lim said, when he would try to break apart electrical appliances just to see how they worked.

That tenacious curiosity would then develop into a deep abiding fascination for science.

But his school grades remained poor despite the interest.

He confessed that grades simply did not matter to him at the point.

It was only when it dawned on him that his grades in school would help him succeed in life did things really start turning around.

"As I grew up and matured, I began to realise how education would make a huge difference in my future," he said.

After that, he knuckled down to some serious studying. It paid off.

He went on to do well for his N-levels, scoring A1s for all subjects except for Chinese Language.

The O-levels, which he sat for at Kranji Secondary School, was a hurdle he had to overcome.

He said: "The fastest way to run is to look forward. Nobody owes you a good life. Nobody owes you happiness - you earn it," he stressed.

Mr Lim, who enjoys cycling, jogging and playing computer games, believed that one of the ways he did well in his studies was to have a strong grasp of the English Language.

"It's a cycle. You get better when you read. And when you get better, you'll want to read more and more," he said.

It helped that his father, Mr Lim Thiam Hock, 67, kept emphasising the importance of education.

The retired business owner told The New Paper on Sunday in Mandarin: "I reminded my children all the time that they should study very hard."

Besides Mr Lim, he has three daughters. He beamed with pride when he opened up to this reporter about his children: "I've always looked forward to seeing them succeed, so instilling independence in them was the right thing to do."

Sure enough, his son's hard work bore fruit, all without him ever needing tuition.

Mr Lim qualified for junior college, scoring 8 points for his L1R4 and 15 for L1R5. But he chose to study General Biotechnology at Singapore Polytechnic (SP) instead, a decision he believes is the wisest he's made: "I already knew what I wanted to do, and the Polytechnic was a conducive place for my studies."

He then entered Nanyang Technological University, where he graduated with a first-class honours degree in Biological Sciences last month.

Then last week Mr Lim became one of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*Star)'s graduate scholars - considered one of the most prestigious awards in the country.

Mr Lim, who plans to pursue a PhD in Immunology at Oxford University, spoke animatedly about his fascination with organisms' immune systems and said he hoped he could help improve the standards of healthcare.

"I see the scholarship as a step forward in my education.

It'll give me a great opportunity to further my research," he added.

Looking back, Mr Lim said he would not change a thing despite his earlier struggles in school.

"To improve, I have to love education for what it's worth, which is knowledge itself."

KSP
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Re: How this EM3 student became a PhD scholar

Postby Kissgurami » Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:50 am

Thumbs up and Well Done to him!

It is great to know that out there in the young generation, there are those who has a never say die attitude

This quote from him is outstanding "He said: "The fastest way to run is to look forward. Nobody owes you a good life. Nobody owes you happiness - you earn it," he stressed." Hope the rest of his peers learns from him instead of grumbling of why they aren't spoon fed or born with a silver spoon :)

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Re: How this EM3 student became a PhD scholar

Postby UncleLim » Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:30 pm

This guy is a rare breed. I hope he will inspire many others who are labelled as failures by the system.

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Re: How this EM3 student became a PhD scholar

Postby ZacK » Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:33 pm

Well done! Kudos to him for being able to turn things around in his favour :)

Hope this is a sign to all parents (myself included) to not be so uptight over grades... At some point the grades will matter but fundamentally we need to be instilling the interest to pursue knowledge in our kids, with this in place the grades should follow...

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Re: How this EM3 student became a PhD scholar

Postby pinky » Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:42 pm

truly deserving of the award- through his sheer hard work, positive attitude and determination
Congratulations and well done :rahrah: :rahrah: :rahrah:

pinky
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Re: How this EM3 student became a PhD scholar

Postby MadScientist » Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:57 pm

Wonderful to know about him!!!

Less rare than we think...

I was in Normal for 2 years... Then Arts stream... Took the Polytechnic route for Biotechnology and... Now molecular biologist, amongst other things.
When I started, no ASTAR scholarships so I took the rough road. ;)

:p

There are the few special ones and I got to know many throughout the years like myself.
We are living proof that the system discriminates and is way off the perfection believed.

That is why, parents, I advocate that WE live the lives we want our children to live. To change and make things possible ourselves first instead of projecting our failures on our children as hopes.

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Re: How this EM3 student became a PhD scholar

Postby 3Boys » Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:06 pm

MadScientist wrote:We are living proof that the system discriminates and is way off the perfection believed.

That is why, parents, I advocate that WE live the lives we want our children to live. To change and make things possible ourselves first instead of projecting our failures on our children as hopes.


I'd rather think that being freed from the bonds of academic hyperachievement at an early age have made you the well-rounded plain speaking individual you are :wink:

So perhaps its a system that works, but in a perverse, unintended roundabout way.

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Re: How this EM3 student became a PhD scholar

Postby Sun_2010 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:08 pm

Kudos MadScientist.

Yeah the system has its imperfections - some glaring ones...

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Re: How this EM3 student became a PhD scholar

Postby MadScientist » Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:15 pm

3Boys wrote:
MadScientist wrote:We are living proof that the system discriminates and is way off the perfection believed.

That is why, parents, I advocate that WE live the lives we want our children to live. To change and make things possible ourselves first instead of projecting our failures on our children as hopes.


I'd rather think that being freed from the bonds of academic hyperachievement at an early age have made you the well-rounded plain speaking individual you are :wink:

So perhaps its a system that works, but in a perverse, unintended roundabout way.



That's very very true... An awesome perspective. :goodpost:

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Re: How this EM3 student became a PhD scholar

Postby Intermezzo » Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:26 pm

Very inspiring stories from Mr Lim Yok Zuan & MadScientist ~

Sometimes a slower or more roundabout way can mean that one gets to learn more along the journey..

After all different kids are sparked (or 开窍) at different times.
It's great that they march to the beat of their own drums.

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