Rajendran s/o Ramachandran

A tough choice today for a better tomorrow

“A weak man has doubts before a decision. A strong man has them afterwards.” ~ Austrian playwright Karl Kraus

Doubt was in the mind of Rajendran s/o Ramachandran after the first lecture for his Diploma in Marine Engineering course. He couldn’t understand what the lecturer was talking about and he felt like a fish out of the water in a classroom full of teenagers. This is because Rajendran is no teenager and the 36 year-old was back in the classroom for the first time in 16 years.

Life has been like a ship sailing on the stormy seas for the Ang Mo Kio Secondary School alumnus. In the early 1990s, a teenage Rajendran was a Diploma in Nautical Studies student at SP. Financial constraints saw him quitting his studies in his final year and Rajendran joined the Republic of Singapore Navy as a marine engineer with just an ‘O’ level certificate. As he left unwillingly, he promised himself that he will get a diploma in future.

Over the next 18 years, Rajendran learned about marine engineering on the job and obtained a National Technical Certificate from the Institute of Naval Engineering along the way. However, he did not forget the promise he made to himself. More importantly, Rajendran also strived to be a role model for his children who are in primary school. It pained Rajendran when they questioned why he was not a degree holder.

To fulfil his promises, Rajendran decided to apply for a Singapore Armed Forces scholarship to study for a diploma. While he was offered choices among various polytechnics, Rajendran had his heart set on returning to SP due to SP’s reputation for producing competent engineers. His application though was initially rejected and he only managed to join the course through a last minute appeal from his Engineering Officer.

Rajendran believes that studying is always a stepping stone to move up in life. With this resolve, Rajendran paid more attention during lectures and began to ask his lecturers questions on topics that he couldn’t understand. It also helped that age was not a barrier to him. With the ‘soft’ skills that he picked up over his Navy career, Rajendran was able to relate to his younger classmates and he became good friends with a few of them. The younger students helped and guided Rajendran to relearn basic mathematics and scientific theories. In return, Rajendran shared his life experiences with them and guided his younger classmates along during workshop lessons.

After three long years, Rajendran’s hard work has paid off. Rajendran is now a proud diploma holder. The experience of studying again has also motivated him to work towards a degree in the near future.

One is never too old to learn and Rajendran is testimony to this.


Tay Eng Soon Gold Medal
Keppel Offshore & Marine Prize
Neptune Ship Management Services Prize
Sembcorp Marine Prize