“ I was enrolled in the Diploma of Architecture in 2006. Back then I was not sure what the course is about and what to expect. Everyone was talking about Mies Van Der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Frank Loyld Wright and I had absolutely no clue who they were. I felt like a little scout boy in the midst of navigating through the woods without a compass; lost. I never took any of the lectures or tutorials seriously. When the 1st year results were released, as expected, I didn’t do very well, in fact I was one of the bottom few in class. Filled with disappointment, what will I be able to achieve after I graduate from SP with such results? Days were spent reflecting on the time I spent in year 1. I’ve decided to make catch up on lost time, and I was determined to work hard. I started to take an interest in learning, reading up on various architects, and learning from their works. Coming from a low-income family, I had to work part time over the weekends for my school fees.
During my 2nd year, I was very fortunate to have met two very supportive tutors, Mr Ken Choo and Mdm Chan Choy Ling. They were critical in my work and with their analytical insights and views that helped push me further in terms of my thinking, to constantly question the norms. Ken was more than a tutor, he went beyond the role of a lecturer, offering to help me get a job at his friend’s firm (LAUD Architects) although he knew that I had no knowledge in any computer skills. I am thankful to my boss and colleagues who were very patient in guiding me throughout this learning process. With the technical skills in hand, I was more prepared during the production of my final design. Juggling between school and work was really tough. Working became more frequent on weekdays to save up for my school fees. I’m glad that I persevered and pushed on.
By taking part in competitions at the end of my 2nd year allowed me to test out new ideas and to challenge others from overseas. The competitions allowed me to explore how architecture can be redefined and I was constantly looking at innovative ways to solve the issues / problems brought forth by the design brief. Throughout this experience, it broadened my knowledge and skills and at the same time enabled me to learn and gain new insights from other contestants and things that I might not be able to achieve in school. I spent my 3rd Year experimenting and questioning the notion of architecture. My consultations with the lecturers allowed for exchange of ideas that pushed me to continuously produce new study models. I was never satisfied. Opportunities such as representing the school for competitions, overseas study trips to Hong Kong, Tasmania and being part of the school’s campus rejuvenation master planning was a very good learning experience that allowed me explore various scales of architecture and to understand various contexts around us.
At the end of year 3, though my results were relatively okay, my cumulative GPA of 3.34 was not good enough for a place in the local university. I was rejected repeatedly by the application of local university and never had a chance to showcase my portfolio. The help given by the Principal and Lecturers humbled me, with their recommendation letters sent out to various agencies and universities.
I decided to go ahead in applying to the Architectural Association, UK and Australian universities knowing that the tuition fees would be a huge burden to the family. However, when I received acceptance to these schools, it was a boost to my confidence. With the acceptance to study 3rd year at AA may seem like a dream with the expensive school fees and high cost of living. It was then, My 3rd year tutor, Ms Teoh Swee Bing suggested I apply for the URA scholarship. With a GPA of 3.3, I was hesitant at first. Being a recipient of a URA scholarship to the Architectural Association was like a dream come true. Looking forward, I am excited to the start of my school term at AA. With this big opportunity, nothing will stop me in pursuing my dreams. I am determined to give my best and strive for success. Given the chance, I am looking forward to contributing back to my alma mater, Singapore Polytechnic.
There is no dream that is too big for one.
I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to the Principal, Director, Lecturers, Technical Officers, friends and those who have helped me along the way during my studies in Singapore Polytechnic, School of Built Environment, Division of Architecture. ”
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