Delinquent Turns Top Student in NYP

When he was a student with Pei Hwa Secondary School, Ray Tan Yi Rong was quite the problem child. He’d fallen into bad company and played truant.

Eventually, he was hauled up and told to shape up – or get expelled. The threat of expulsion was like a cold shower, and Ray woke up to the reality that his N levels were just around the corner.

He worked hard, going from a base where he hardly knew any mathematics, to doing well in his N and, then O levels. Then, it was an obvious choice for him to apply for the Diploma in Medicinal Chemistry at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP): He’d liked Chemistry in secondary school and had researched on all chemistry-related polytechnic courses and found NYP’s offering unique. He also felt that the course would open up more options for him if he decided to further his studies after the diploma.

In NYP, Ray led an active life. He was a student leader in several events organised by the School of Chemical & Life Sciences (SCL), such as the Freshmen Orientation and Annual Recruitment Drive. His proudest moment during his three years here was clinching the top prize in the senior category of the National Crystal Growing Competition organised by the National University of Singapore (NUS). The crystal that he and his team grew, measuring 2 x 2 inches, was the biggest in the entire competition. It also took the Biggest Single Crystal Prize.

Exposure to the competition deepened his interest in chemistry research. So when his School gave him the chance to do a research internship with Monash University in Australia, he jumped at the chance. Working alongside university researchers in analysing crystals exposed him to in-depth research. The stint also taught him how to live life independently. He learned how to cook, do his laundry and budget his spending.    

Besides equipping him with the skills and knowledge related to his course, his lecturers also guided his decision-making for his own future. For his final-year project, they provided guidance so that he could come up with his own solutions.

From a delinquent who almost didn’t make it to his N levels, Ray has blossomed at NYP. He was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew award – meant for the best science and technology students and has since been offered places with the local universities. He reckons he is likely pursue a degree in Science (Chemistry) at NUS.

Career-wise, he aspires to join the Singapore Police Force to so that he can help wayward teens – like he once was. He says his experience can be a good example for the kids to learn from.

Oh, in case you think it would be a waste of his chemistry education, Ray thinks otherwise. “My chemistry knowledge will complement analytical and investigative skills,” he says.

Because We Can


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