Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The MetroDBITan student series : Issue #016 - Sim Shi Jie

Today, we share an inspiring story with you.

A story of a Year 3 DBIT student who proved that as long as you are determined, even if you stumble halfway through your academic journey, you can still pick up and achieve success at a later stage of life.

While some of our students sailed through their primary and secondary school days, it was not that easy for Sim Shi Jie.  He suffered a setback after his PSLE when he was streamed to the Normal Academic stream.  But today, But today, he is one of our *TOP* students, with a near-perfect GPA.

I had the privilege to understand more about Shi Jie's passage of rites and in this entry, you will get to know more about it too.  Thank you so much to Shi Jie for sharing!  We hope that your example will bring motivation to many others who face vicissitudes in life and to encourage them to overcome their obstacles, just like you have. :)

Shi Jie, you have done wonderfully for yourself! What are the qualities you possess that have made you what  you are today?

I guess having a sense of determination is one of my most important qualities. When I set my mind firm on doing something, I need to see it through the end and get it done and not just give up and walk away.

As Albert Einstein simply put it – “It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.”

For example, in one of my IT projects, I remember very clearly a problem I encountered in the midst of doing it; I simply could not produce the webpage in the design I wanted. Despite attempting many, many times, the codes I wrote did not work at all.  However, in order to complete the project the way I wanted, it made me strive harder for it; I practically researched and literally worked on it for many days and nights to complete it. And I am glad I did, because I did manage to find the code for the particular design I wanted!

Determination and my constant need to fulfill the tasks keeps me motivated too – so I don’t work for work’s sake, but I really enjoy learning and discovering new knowledge.

In addition, honesty is also one of my key strengths. Throughout my childhood, my parents would always remind me about the importance of being honest. As the old adage says “honesty is the best policy,” it perfectly sums up my belief about the importance of honesty and integrity.

A minor example was when I was taking one of my modules in year two. After one of the tests, I realised that the lecturer had given me seven more marks for my MST paper. Although it may potentially pull down my overall grade, I respectfully pointed out to my lecturer that she had given me more marks. It actually felt great because I felt that I had done the right thing!

Here’s a quote that reflects what I feel: “today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well.”

However, I do feel that there are areas I can improve on.

I am very introverted. Many a times, I’d rather sit down and read a book or be immersed in my own thoughts than to hangout in social settings.  While I have more time on my own, I guess I may have to improve on my social skills, which is important for networking. I am also rather impatient, especially when it comes to waiting. While my impatience had helped me in terms of efficiency, I guess it has also conjured many instances of frustration in me and this is definitely one area I need to work on.

Tell us more about your school days in primary school and secondary school

I was previously from Kranji Primary School, and during my primary school days, I participated in many CCAs, such as badminton, the Librarian Society and the Guitar Club. My primary school days were pretty normal, I guess, like everyone’s.

After primary school, I moved on to Westwood Secondary School.

My secondary school days were the biggest transition of my life.

My greatest academic achievement was being laterally transferred from the Normal Academic stream to the Express stream. This would have not been possible without my teachers’ help, guidance and enduring encourage, for which I am grateful for.

Apart from my academic achievements, my life in my secondary school is filled with joy and tears too. This is especially so in my CCA, choir. I have been through many concerts, local and international competitions with my choir and the friendships we have forged, the tough journeys, the thick and thin of everything we had been through has been an important memory for me.

Shijie with his choir in Prague Castle!

After their performance

The grand stairs leading to the competition hall

Shijie and his choir outside YMS Arts Centre

Joining choir is one of the most important turning points of my life too. I have come to love and be passionate about choral music and my responsibilities as a treasurer in my choir has also taught me important life lessons that with great power comes great responsibility. My choir teachers, Ms Joy Chen, Ms Pauline Fong and Ms Serene Tan have also been the greatest inspiration for me, and my choir.

Why did you choose DBIT as your preferred course?

DBIT offers an ideal mix of business and technology which complements each other.

Personally, taking a pure Business course or a pure Information Technology course would be too concentrated and focused on either route.

Hence, that is the fundamental reason why I chose DBIT – striking the right balance between business and technology.

The other reason is, I can learn more than just one discipline – and I knew right from the start that DBIT appeals more to me as compared to other hybrid courses.

Hence, DBIT was the right course for me.

Share your likes and dislikes (hobbies, your fav movies, music, food etc)

I love travelling. I enjoy learning the history and culture of different countries, seeing new architecture, trying authentic local cuisines, and meeting new people. I also like how travelling broadens my horizon, makes me learn to be more open-minded, and also allow me to pick up different languages!

Besides travelling, I also enjoy photography. I am not a professional photographer, nor am I proficient in DSLR, but I love how photography documents my daily life and translates my everyday into tangible memories. Recently, I have come to discover the wonders of smartphone photography –snapping using my smartphone. Though the quality of the photograph may be compromised, it is, however, easier to use than a DSLR, removing the need for all the finicky pre-set details. Here are some photos taken and edited on my iPhone from my OCS trip to Vietnam:

At Long Hoa Orphanage

At Cham Village

At Long Hoa Orphanage

I also enjoy reading.

I love learning and reading puts me into places I have never to. I have read quite a number of books, ranging from different series of Chicken Soup for the Soul to Icons of England by Bill Bryson. I am currently reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. It is only recently I discovered the magical wonders of Harry Potter. Guess I’m a little too old to read this, eh? Haha.

Other than travelling, photography and reading, I also have an uncommon love for choral music, especially madrigals like Lay a Garland by Robert Lucas de Pearsall, and many different Asian folksongs, such as Janger by Budi Susanto. I guess my love for choir was influenced by my involvement in my secondary school’s choir. Apart from choral music, I also love classic musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera, Les Choristes, and Les Misérables. I have also come to love many pop songs, like Adele’s Hometown Glory. All in all, I’m an avid music lover! :)

What do you plan to do after graduation from SP? What is your ambition in life? What do you see are the steps you need to take in order to realise your dreams?

After graduation from SP, I hope I can get enrolled into a world-renowned university in United Kingdom after completing my national service.

Upon the completion of my university studies, I hope to also get a job in the field that I am interested in. I also hope to travel the world, to see and experience different cultures and understand the way of life of people from different countries.

I also wish to master new languages, such as French, Italian and Vietnamese.

The step to realise my dreams is to strive and work harder each time in order to achieve.

Name three things or people that inspire you

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa has devoted her life to caring for the sick and poor. Her humanitarian work and devotion to sincerely help those who are sick and poor is truly inspiring. In our constant pursuit of success, wealth, and progression in life, have we forgotten those who are left behind? Her commitment in serving people who are underprivileged and ill inspires me and has taught me the importance of giving back to the community – to serve those who greatly need our helping hands, to put a smile on their faces and to make a difference in their lives.

Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

This quote by Mark Twain has resonated in me. It has taught me to live the moment and to try. I do believe that life is about trying and to give everything a go – and not the fear of attempt. The last three words ‘Explore. Dream. Discover.’ has also been the philosophy of my life. It has inspired me to explore new things, and to learn to be curious; it has also taught me to dare to dream and imagine and also make new discoveries; because after all, that’s life.

J.K. Rowling
I clearly remember one of her interviews on The Oprah Show where she said:

“Rock-bottom became the solid foundation on which I re-built by life. It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

A single mother who was recently divorced, J.K. Rowling had been through twelve rejections by different publishers before she was given the approval by Bloomsbury, which published the world-renowned Harry Potter series.

To me, her perseverance, despite her situation and many rejections faced, is truly inspirational and something that I ought to learn. She had also spoken about failure, how failure is so important and how it doesn’t get spoken about enough.

I have met many friends who are afraid of failure like me – but failure, in the words of J.K. Rowling, in many ways often “lead to the greatest success” and how being at rock-bottom is liberating. Her inspiring words have taught me to embrace failure and not be fearful of it because we have “nothing to lose.”

Have you travelled anywhere before? If so, which countries have you been? Which country do you like most? And why?

I am not very well-travelled, but I’m lucky to have been to several places such as Prague, London, Malaysia and Vietnam. My very first overseas experience to Prague, Czech Republic, was fabulous! I went there along with my secondary school for an international choir competition. As we went there during Christmas, the city is bejewelled with Christmas lights and everyone was in their Christmas spirits! Prague is truly a magnificent and beautiful city! :)

For six weeks between March and April, I, along with Shi Hui, had the privilege to go to London for our Overseas Industrial Training Programme (OITP). In our trip to London, we also got the chance to go to Slough and Canterbury within England.  In addition, I have also travelled to Desaru, Malaysia, with my Polytechnic Forum 2012 team for our Residential Programme. During our trip there, we discussed issues relating to Singapore, in areas such as economy, education, security, environment, and identity.

I also signed up for an Overseas Community Service (OCS) trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. My team also had the opportunity to travel to different provinces and villages, such as Ha Tien and Cham Village.

OCS @ Vietnam

Posing with a cute local Vietnamese boy @ OCS

I really like all the different places I’ve been to, for each and every country offers a different experience. However, if I have to choose one, that would be England. It is a really beautiful place that is vastly different from Singapore. The climate, the people, the architecture, the food, the culture, is all enchantingly wonderful.

I also like Slough and Canterbury, which in itself, is different from that of London’s hustle and bustle. The beauteously rustic architecture is something that I truly adore.





What are your favourite modules in SP?

This is a tough question because I have enjoyed learning most of the modules! Haha. However, the module that left me the deepest impression was Marketing Intelligence & Research (MIR). As the module name suggests, it is about data collection, the use of different research techniques and the analysis of data. I have had lots of fun in this module because of its practical element: we really apply what we have learnt into practical use.

One such example was the field operation, where my team and I went down to different Sheng Siong Supermarket outlets and asked the patrons questions we carefully drafted. After collecting the data, we used IBM SPSS to aggregate the data, and make a quantitative analysis out of the statistical data gathered.

This module not only gave me the opportunity to practice what market research is all about, it has also been a really fun module that I truly enjoyed! :)

Share your experience and tips about transiting from secondary school to poly and from poly year 1 to poly year 2 or poly year 2 to poly year 3 to your juniors

Here’s my two cents to help you learn better in a new semester:

  • Set short-term goals for the semester.
  • Be curious
  • Incite interest in whatever you are learning
  • Be inquisitive, ask questions
  • Clarify when in doubt
  • Participate actively in class
  • Make notes and revise
  • Take breaks

Hope it’s useful!

Do you have a CCA in SP?

Nope, I do not have a fixed CCA in SP.

However, I do take part in different event-based activities.

Under DMIT STAR, I have participated in many events by DMIT, such as the Parents Meeting, facility tours for secondary school students, etc. In these STAR events, I am exposed to things that I don’t usually learn in our modules. I learn how to facilitate events organised by DMIT, communicate with different visitors of our school and also “sell” our school to secondary school students. It has also built up my confidence in presenting, and meeting new people.

I also take part in many local community services, such as the Silver Day Infocomm and more recently, my Overseas Community Service trip to Vietnam. Through my involvement in these services, I’ve learnt to be contended with what I have and to not take things for granted. More importantly, I have also learnt the importance of giving back to our community, and to help the underprivileged. This has built up my sense of empathy and gratitude – especially to appreciate everything I am given.

Please share 3 pictures of your past projects / assignments

1)   Web Applications Development I

Part of Shi Jie's Web Applications Development I project,
using PHP on Adobe Dreamweaver

2)   Web Applications Development II

Part of Shi Jie's Web Applications Development II project
using ASP.NET on Microsoft Visual Web Developer

3)   Web Client Development

Part of Shi Jie's Web Client Development project,
using HTML, CSS and JavaScript on Aranae.

Are you currently attached with a boyfriend / girlfriend?

Oppppps, I am not currently attached. Hahaha.

Please share some photos of yourself!

UCL’s Quad (London)

At Tower of London

Canterbury Cathedral
with Mr Richard Pettinger and Shi Hui

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