Lee Chee Hoe’s memory of his primary school days is reminiscent of scenes from the hit movie, “I Not Stupid”.
He failed his school examinations from Primary 1 to Primary 4 and was posted to EM3. Classmates avoided him. Neighbours looked down on him. The last straw was when he heard his teacher tell his parents that it was better for him to stop schooling and go to work. That struck him really hard.
Pulling up his socks, Chee Hoe passed his EM3 exams and was posted to a normal technical class at Nan Hua High School. He passed his ‘N’ Levels with good grades, and completed a NITEC in Electronics (Computer Technology) at ITE Bukit Batok. Spurred on by his good results, he applied for a place in the Diploma of Electrical and Electronic Engineering programme at Singapore Polytechnic (SP).
Chee Hoe has since gone on to win the Tay Eng Soon Gold Medal at SP in recognition of his excellent academic achievement with 34 distinctions and As. His other accolades include the Festo Prize, the IET Prize and the Model Student Award. Both the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University have offered him a place in their engineering programmes.
Chee Hoe has also visited the Philippines over three consecutive years to do community work, changing roofs and wiring up houses in villages. For his efforts, the Mayor of Concepcion province, the Philippines, presented him with the Loyalty Award, which also recognises him as an adopted son of the province.
His passion to help the less fortunate stems from his own humble background. Both his parents work but their incomes are barely sufficient for a family of five, so Chee Hoe took on part-time jobs. Thanks to his consistently good academic and co-curricular performance, he secured funding from SP’s bursary schemes to pay part of his polytechnic fees.
There is no doubt that Chee Hoe, who has just turned 22, is a role model for those who did not excel academically in their early years. In the future, we can definitely look forward to more success stories from him.