Former ‘Rebel’ With a Heart of Gold
School of Health Sciences

Gary Lau (above, with his NYP course mates) is an extraordinary young man.


Gary’s parents divorced when he was three years old. He has rebelled since primary school.  He picked up smoking at 11,  joined a gang at 13, got his first tattoos at 14 and ran away from home at 15.

Despite his troubled past, Gary has shown tremendous resilience through multiple obstacles, much discrimination and many rejections.  

During his difficult growing-up years, the love and support given by CampVision, a non-profit organisation for youth moved him to change. As he grew older, Gary also realised the importance of education. He took up his ‘N’ levels and ITE certification, so that he could later pursue a diploma in social work. 

So enrolling in NYP’s Diploma in Social Sciences (Social Work) in 2015 was a dream come true for Gary. At first, poly  life was tough.   Gary felt pressured to excel, due to his sterling ITE results. But his first semester results were disappointing.  He found himself faltering.  

However, the NYP environment was most nurturing.  His lecturers had faith in him. They entrusted him to lead  many projects and internship programmes. He was also picked for key leadership positions -  President of Social Work Associate Network for students, and Vice-President of the Sketch Art Club. Gary began to excel in NYP.

Says Gary: “NYP has shaped me to become a better person; someone who is passionate about social work. My classmates believed in me, and my lecturers, especially Ms Ong Ai Weiq, trusted me. This built my confidence and I picked myself up.”

Gary started to do better in his studies, and was on the Director’s List for the remaining five semesters.  In 2018, he will be graduating with the National Council of Social Service Silver Medal and the prestigious Tay Eng Soon Award for ITE Upgrader.

With the skills learnt at NYP, Gary embarked on a new social enterprise project in June 2017. As founder of Happy Children Happy Future, Gary wants to help disadvantaged students through free tuition. He spent a month knocking on doors of 12 blocks of rental flats from Eunos to Pasir Ris to offer his tuition service.  “Many people slammed their doors on me. But I never gave up.  I really want to help these students,” says Gary.

Gary also worked with Voluntary Welfare Organisations and educational institutions on this project. Today, Happy Children Happy Future has more than 90 volunteers providing tuition to about 60 students.

Going forward, Gary aspires to pursue a degree in social work or sociology at a local university.  He strongly believes in helping his youth clients and making a difference in their lives.

Because We Can


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