Beating the Odds to Excel

Cheerful and outgoing, Sophie Soon may seem like any other 19-year-old you meet. However, her slew of achievements, musically and athletically, bear testament to the determined spirit and hard work of this extraordinary teenager.


Diagnosed with cone rod dystrophy as a child, which results in deteriorating vision that may lead to eventual blindness, Sophie’s visual impairment has not stopped her from pursuing her interests in sports and music. The Diploma in Business Management student represented Singapore in swimming at the 2015 ASEAN Para Games where she bagged a personal best timing in the 100m-butterfly event. Her flair and passion for the violin also saw her performing alongside The Sam Willows at the 2014 President’s Star Charity Show.


Sophie was enrolled in NYP via the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) in 2014. She said, “NYP has given me great support in the pursuit of my passions. I also feel that PFP has prepared me well for the hands-on learning experience in NYP. In addition to the basic subjects, I studied modules related to my diploma that give me a strong foundation and a glimpse into my course.  


“Also, my lecturers often checked on me to ensure that I am coping well and they will sometimes schedule classes to accommodate my busy training sessions for swimming competitions.”


Sophie won three gold medals in the 2015 SPH National Para-Swimming Championship, and another three golds in the 2016 National Para-Swimming Championship.  She swims up to six days a week, and is constantly chasing her personal bests because it is an "achievement I can see". 


These achievements and her positive attitude have won Sophie the Platinum Award for Special Achievement at NYP’s Student Talent & Achievement Recognition (STAR) Awards 2016. The STAR Awards acknowledge and recognise NYP students with special talents and passion in non-academic areas. 


Apart from swimming, Sophie, who is a Grade 7 violinist, enjoys playing classical and baroque music.  Instead of feeling dejected when she cannot read her violin notes, she learns news songs by listening to how her teacher plays them.

Sophie said in a determined tone, “I learn violin differently from others because I have problems reading the score. My violin teacher would play a segment of a song and I will play after that. After repeating this process for the different segments of a song, I can eventually piece the whole song together.”


She added, “ You can either live every day of your life feeling sorry for yourself, or you can just try and live the best that you can, live every day like it's your last. “


Indeed, Sophie dreams big and puts in the effort needed to realise them. And NYP has also supported her in the pursuit of her passion. 


Because We Can


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