Tay Sze Han Kennard
Diploma in Aerospace Electronics (DASE)
Lee Kuan Yew Award
Alfred Robert Edis Prize
A Passion to Lead, Nurture and Care
A charismatic leader who shows compassion, care and concern for others, best sums up this year’s Lee Kuan Yew Award winner, Tay Sze Han Kennard.
He visited the elderly who lived alone in one-room rental flats at Bukit Merah from 2016 until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He now keeps in touch using the telephone. He even took up a course to become a registered befriender with the social service agency, Lions Befrienders. Together with other volunteers, he would chat with the elderly and help them with simple tasks like changing bedsheets, translating letters from English to Mandarin, and purchasing groceries. “What kept me going were the radiant smiles on their faces and how eager they were to chat with us,” he said.
The Nan Hua High School alumnus played an active role in planning his class community service activity – a visit to the SilverAce Senior Activity Centre in Bukit Merah and a six-month-long community service project, where fellow students of the polytechnic’s talent development programme, SP Outstanding Talent (SPOT) Programme, helped in the weekly online “kidsREAD” and “We Can Read” programmes of Lakeside Family Services.
On-campus, Kennard was a peer tutor in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE) helping fellow students in the Diploma of Aerospace Electronics course. He said, “As a peer tutor, I meet with my tutees regularly to help them grasp the concepts taught in class. I feel happy whenever they can understand a certain concept and complete the tutorial questions. It is rewarding to see them happy when they have improved and gained the confidence to do better.”
Kennard has also been paying it forward by going back to his alma mater, Nan Hua High School, as a primer in The Boys’ Brigade (BB). “As a primer, I mentor my juniors by giving them advice when they are planning activities, like the BB Cares and parade programmes, and camps,” he elaborated. In recognition of his leadership qualities and service in the community, Kennard received “The President’s Award” in 2020, the highest award in the BB programme.
Another feather in his cap was receiving the Harvard Prize Book (Singapore), a recognition that acknowledges and encourages altruism. “I have come to realise that volunteering is about giving up a little bit of my time to make a huge difference in mine and someone else’s life,” he said, reflectively.
In the School of EEE, he has held multiple leadership roles including Organising Chairman for the EEE Freshman Orientation Programme, Organising Secretary for the EEE Annual Awards 2021, and Vice-President of the EEE Student Ambassadors Executive Committee. In recognition of all his contributions, Kennard received the “SP Excellence Award” in 2022.
His volunteering work has not only helped those around him but has given him direction regarding his future career. “Through being a peer tutor and serving as a primer in the BB, I have found my new passion in teaching. I realised I enjoy tutoring and mentoring others and I aspire to teach and inspire future generations,” he said.
Winning the Klass Engineering and Solutions Book Prize for topping his cohort in his second year in SP validates Kennard's aspiration. A high point in Kennard's academic achievements - he scored six points for five subjects for his G.C.E. O-Level examination - was at the 15th International Standards Olympiad, organised by the Korea Standards Association (KSA), where his team clinched gold.
With his newfound aspiration to be a teacher, Kennard applied for the Ministry of Education (MOE) Teaching Scholarship. If successful, he hopes to pursue the Bachelor of Science (Education) course at the National Institute of Education. “I see myself being an inspiring teacher to my students in a secondary school, moulding them to have good character and guiding them to do well in their academics,” he enthused.